Wayne Pivac expects major test from England

Wales boss Wayne Pivac is braced for England to test his team “across the park” in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash at Parc y Scarlets.

England head to west Wales with a powerful starting line-up, six forwards on the bench and head coach Eddie Jones hoping his players can bring an intensity that Wales will never have faced before.

“We expect nothing less than a confident Eddie Jones making comments like that because he is in a position where he can do it,” Pivac said.

“The boys have been playing very well in that white jersey. It’s nothing that we wouldn’t expect and, if anything, it just adds to the occasion.

“It is a very strong team, it’s close to a World Cup squad, so we know that it will be a very big day at the office for us. They are going to test us across the park.

“It’s exactly what we need, and we will get questions asked. Looking ahead to the Six Nations, we will know exactly where this squad is at and the individuals selected this time around.

“If you think you are ever going to get up for a match, one would suspect that this will be the match. Motivation won’t be an issue for us.

“We are going to have to bring a lot of physicality, we know that, and that is going to have to be over 80 minutes with the bench they will unload into the game at some stage.”

Cardiff Blues scrum-half Lloyd Williams will make his first Wales start for four years, and flanker James Botham – grandson of England cricket great Sir Ian Botham – retains his place in a back row missing Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi.

Tipuric suffered a head knock during the victory over Georgia last weekend, and Navidi remains unavailable as he continues his recovery from concussion.

Wales v Georgia – Autumn Nations Cup – Parc y Scarlets
Wales flanker James Botham (David Davies/PA)

Pivac added: “Both were (close), but they still have the odd symptom, which means they’ve been ruled out.

“We are hopeful that one, if not both, will be available for Italy (Wales’ probable play-off opponents on Saturday week). If so, we will probably use them at some stage in that game.”

Williams, who has won 30 caps, partners Dan Biggar at half-back, with Botham moving from blindside to openside flanker following a promising Test debut in the Georgia game.

Cardiff-born Botham is joined in the back row by Shane Lewis-Hughes and Taulupe Faletau, and with centre Jonathan Davies sidelined due to a knee injury, Nick Tompkins and Johnny Williams again forge Wales’ midfield combination.

Wales v Georgia – Autumn Nations Cup – Parc y Scarlets
Johnny Williams (centre) in action against Georgia (David Davies/PA)

Scarlets centre Williams qualifies for Wales through his father, who is from Rhyl. Williams represented England and scored a try in a non-cap game against the Barbarians last year.

Elsewhere, 19-year-old Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit wins a third Test cap, Ryan Elias returns at hooker and captain Alun Wyn Jones is partnered in the second row by Jake Ball, but full-back Liam Williams misses out due to a facial injury suffered against Georgia.

Pivac said: “(Botham and Lewis-Hughes) are a couple of guys with big futures and we are going to get the questions about them asked in this particular match because we are up against a very strong England team, who are going to bring a lot of intensity.

“What a match for these guys to be tested in.”

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