James Botham sure grandad Ian will be backing him even against England

By Andrew Baldock, PA Rugby Union Correspondent
·2 min read

Wales flanker James Botham admits it is a “dream come true” to play against England.

The 22-year-old grandson of England cricket great Sir Ian Botham will make just his second international appearance in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Cardiff-born Botham impressed on debut when Wales beat Georgia last weekend, but a far greater test awaits this weekend, especially opposite an England back-row of Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola.

“I can’t wait,” Botham said. “It’s a dream come true. I have dreamt this moment since I was a kid, chucking a ball around.

“Words can’t really describe it. You work for something your whole life and this is probably the one thing I have worked for my whole life, to get the jersey on and play against England.

“Obviously, everyone gives me stick about the family being English and stuff, but in my heart it’s Wales through and through, and the family know that. Hopefully, I will do everyone proud.

“It is doing my own thing and creating my own legacy.

“I did play a bit of cricket when I was younger, but rugby has definitely always been the one for me.

Botham hopes his grandad Ian (right) will back him even against England
Botham hopes his grandad Ian (right) will back him even against England (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I am sure he (Sir Ian) will be backing me 100 per cent even though I haven’t got the white jersey he supports on.”

With flanker Justin Tipuric ruled out after suffering a head knock during the Georgia win, Botham moves from a blindside to openside role against England.

And another impressive display is sure to leave him firmly in Wales head coach Wayne Pivac’s thoughts ahead of the Guinness Six Nations later this season.

Botham added: “The Georgia game was a big step up from playing for the Blues. It’s going to be even more of a bigger step up this weekend.

“It’s just dealing with that and getting on with it.

“We know what the English back-row are going to come with, the intensity they are going to come with, we know what they do. I just want to focus on myself, really, and do my team-mates proud.

“I prefer to play seven. Playing with Shane (Lewis-Hughes) at six will be great. I just want to bring some physicality over the ball and with the ball, so it will be good to play with him again.”