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Five talking points ahead of Wales’ game against Georgia

18 Nov 2022 3 minute read
Josh Macleod during training. Photo WRU

Andrew Baldock

Wales continue their Autumn Nations Series campaign when they tackle Georgia at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

Wayne Pivac’s team bounced back from a 55-23 drubbing against New Zealand two weeks ago to defeat Argentina last time out, while Georgia have arrived in Cardiff on the back of a one-point loss to Samoa.

Here are some of the key talking points.

Wales must be ruthless

Given the considerable game-breaking quality they possess in the back division, Wales could cut loose. George North, Alex Cuthbert, Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit, who all start on Saturday, have scored 88 tries for their country between them, so Georgia might well have their hands full.

Wales, over the years, have often struggled against their perceived weakest autumn opponents, losing or falling over the line in games they were expected to win comfortably. With such an attacking cutting edge on show, though, they need to capitalise.

Josh Macleod – third time lucky

Scarlets forward Josh Macleod will make his Wales debut on Saturday, but he must have wondered whether it would ever happen.

Macleod, who starts at number eight, was selected for the 2020 autumn Tests squad before a hamstring injury sidelined him, then he made Wales’ starting line-up against Six Nations opponents Scotland last year, but he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in training later that day. “It is just a pleasure to see him back on the playing field. He is a lovely young guy and he works very, very hard at his game,” Pivac said.

World Cup rehearsals

With the World Cup in France just under 10 months away, it is largely a fruitless exercise to seek form pointers at this stage. Wales, though, have a chance to leave their calling card when they host Georgia and then Australia next weekend.

Both countries are in Wales’ World Cup group – as they were for the Japan-hosted 2019 tournament – and victories over them during the next eight days would signal an impressive finale to the year, while also giving Wales a double boost ahead of their next meetings in Nantes and Lyon, respectively.

Dafydd Jenkins – watch this space

If any player is to fit the description of 2023 World Cup selection bolter for Wales, then Exeter lock Jenkins could be that person. At the age of 19, he has already captained English heavyweights Exeter as the youngest skipper in Premiership history, while a place in Wales’ matchday 23 to face Georgia was secured just a day after he joined the squad following injuries suffered by Will Rowlands and Dan Lydiate during victory over Argentina last weekend.

At 6ft 7in and almost 18 stone, Bridgend-born Jenkins has every physical attribute required to thrive at Test level.

Georgia need a show of strength

It has been a debate for several seasons now – Georgia or Italy in the Six Nations? The Azzurri’s consistently-wretched Six Nations form regularly sparks debate over promotion and relegation, with Georgia always identified as next cab off the rank.

But Italy’s stunning victory over Australia during the Autumn Nations Series, which came just eight months after they defeated Wales in Cardiff, suggests a brighter future, although Georgia toppled the Azzurri earlier this year and only lost by a point to Samoa last weekend. Wales away, though, will be a sizeable step up.

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