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The young Wales star with ‘a fantastic rugby brain’ and is like a coach on the field

Having Callum Sheedy at No 10 for Wales will be like having a coach on the field.

That’s how his boss at Bristol, Pat Lam, views him and it’s that kind of game management Wayne Pivac will be looking for against Georgia.

The 25-year-old Sheedy will make his first Test start at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday, having debuted off the bench versus Ireland last weekend.

Outlining his strengths, Wales coach Pivac said: “He’s a guy that is very confident and very comfortable in his own skin.

“When I spoke to Pat (Lam) quite a while ago about him – we’ve had a few conversations – he described him as like having a coach on the field.

“He’s a very good thinker on the game, a good game manager and he can implement a game plan.

“You’ve seen the way Bristol play and he does exactly what Pat wants. He does it very, very well.

“He’s very good at putting players into space and putting the ball in their hands early. Bristol have some quality players and in training here he’s very good at taking the ball to the line.

“His passing options are very good and he makes good decisions. For him it will be about finding the balance between club and international rugby in terms of the time and space you have. It will be interesting to see how he goes and adjusts.

“He’s certainly got a fantastic rugby brain, communicates well not only with the players but the staff, so we’re excited to see him start.”

There will also be a first start for another west country-based player in Gloucester’s teenage winger Louis Rees-Zammit.

“I am excited, and he is very excited himself. I can assure you of that,” said Pivac.

“He has worked very hard and continues to work hard. I think he has realised that, being in his second camp, there is a lot of hard work on the training field that has to be done and it is a big step up.

“Just being able to repeat the speed that he has in training has been a good challenge for him.”

There’s also a lot of focus on Cardiff Blues flanker James Botham, who will make his Wales debut on the blindside having just been called into the squad earlier this week.

Assessing his qualities, Pivac said: “It’s his size, his athleticism, his skills, and for a young guy coming into a new environment his level of communication and confidence.

“He hasn’t played a minute at this level of the game, but he has played at club level for the Blues and what he’s done in the training environment suggests to me at his age there is a big future for him.

“He can play more than one position which makes him an interesting character if you look at what someone like Josh Navidi has done at Test level.

“When he stands next to the likes of Josh he’s a bit taller and broader in the shoulders and he probably offers a little bit more at the set-piece. He’s young. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but he certainly deserves to be around these guys and we’ll see how he goes on the weekend.

“He has done very, very well in the short space of time he has been with us. Everyone has been impressed with what he has brought to the table.

“We’re all thinking the same thing – one, the guy can handle it and two, we want to give him a go.

“We could have done it the other way round and started James [Davies], but we just feel it gives us a better balance in the back row with James [Botham] starting. We feel he will be a guy who will step up to the occasion.”

Asked about the youngster’s cricketing legend grandfather Sir Ian Botham, Pivac said: “I have seen his grandad play.

“When I saw him play, I was obviously supporting the New Zealand team and he probably bowled most of the batting attack out single-handedly and scored 100 runs on many occasions.

“He destroyed New Zealand many times. He was a very good cricketer.”

Botham will be joined in the back row by Aaron Wainwright, who shows his versatility by packing down at No 8.

“Aaron has exceptional speed and footwork, which helps at No 8,” said Pivac.



Aaron Wainwright will wear No 8 for Wales against Georgia

“Obviously there are a few scrums in a game and at times we need that pressure to be taken off a bit by getting a bit of go-forward. He is very good at that aspect of the No 8 role.

“I just think he’ll be involved in the game a little bit more and we will see more of his skill-set and footwork in terms of his attacking game.

“We’ve looked at Ross (Moriarty) and Aaron and talked about switching them at club level, for the reasons I just spoke about.

“Ross with the intent he brings, defensively at this stage of their careers he is probably the stronger of the two.

“In terms of the No 8 and the attacking side of the game, we just think that’s the right thing for Aaron at the moment.”

Pivac confirmed that winger George North has been released to play for the Ospreys against Benetton on Sunday to get some game time.

He also said it was unlikely that centre Jonathan Davies would be available to face England next week due to his knee problem.

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