Wales continue their Autumn Nations Series campaign when they take on Georgia at Principality Stadium on Saturday.
Wayne Pivac’s team bounced back from a 55-23 drubbing against New Zealand two weeks ago, beating Argentina last time out, while Georgia arrived in Cardiff after a one-point loss to Samoa.
Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the key talking points.
Wales must be ruthless
Given the considerable groundbreaking quality they possess in the lower league, Wales could let loose. George North, Alex Cuthbert, Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit, all starting on Saturday, have scored a combined 88 tries for their country so Georgia could have their hands full. Wales have often struggled against their perceived weakest opponents in the Autumn over the years, losing or falling over the line games they were expected to win easily. With such an offensive edge, however, they need to capitalize.
Josh Macleod – third time lucky
Scarlet striker Josh Macleod will make his Wales debut on Saturday but he must have wondered if it would ever happen. Macleod, who starts eighth, was selected for the Fall Test 2020 squad before a hamstring injury knocked him out. Then he was in Wales’ starting XI against Six Nations opponents Scotland last year but suffered a torn Achilles tendon in training later that day. “It’s just a pleasure to see him back on the field. He’s a lovely young guy and works very, very hard on his game,” Pivac said.
With the World Cup in France just under 10 months away, looking for clues to form is largely fruitless as of this writing. However, Wales have a chance to make their calling card when they take on Georgia and then Australia next weekend. Both countries are in the Welsh World Cup group – as they were at the 2019 tournament hosted by Japan – and victories over them over the next eight days would spell an impressive final of the year while also giving Wales a double boost ahead of the next meetings in Nantes and France respectively .Lyons.
Dafydd Jenkins – watch this area
If a player could fit the description of Wales’ 2023 World Cup selection bolter, Exeter Lock Jenkins could be that person. At 19, he was already captain of English heavyweight Exeter, becoming the youngest skipper in Premier League history, while securing a Round 23 spot for Wales against Georgia just a day after joining the squad after injuries to Will Rowlands and Dan Lydiate defeating Argentina last weekend. At 6ft 7in and nearly 18 stone, the Bridgend native Jenkins has all the physical traits needed to thrive at Test level.
Georgia needs a tour de force
It has been discussed for a few seasons – Georgia or Italy in the Six Nations? The Azzurri’s consistently pathetic Six Nations form regularly sparks debates over promotion and relegation, with Georgia always identified as the next cab from the ranks. But Italy’s stunning victory over Australia during the Autumn Nations Series, which came just eight months after beating Wales in Cardiff, points to a brighter future, although Georgia toppled the Azzurri earlier this year and by just a point against Samoa last weekend lost. However, Wales will make a significant step forward.