After a promising Autumn Nations Cup, Wales flanker James Botham was one of the surprise omissions from Wayne Pivac’s Guinness Six Nations squad.
Botham initially made headlines due to his famous grandad Sir Ian Botham, the English cricketing legend, and the fact that 22-year-old had sworn allegiance to the Welsh dragon and not the red rose.
Yet soon it was the Cardiff Blues flanker’s impressive performances that were doing the talking for him on the pitch. A strong debut against Georgia was followed by solid performances against Italy and England.
Yet it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Leaving aside his exclusion from Pivac’s most recent squad selection – being passed over for the experience of established star Josh Navidi and recalled British and Irish Lions Dan Lydiate isn’t much of a snub to be fair – Botham admits to having put his foot in it on one of his early Welsh camps.
Speaking to Ross Harris in an in-depth interview with TheXV, Botham detailed the faux pas in the lead up to the match with England.
“Alun Wyn is a really nice guy and he’s the best player, but I made the mistake of speaking when he was speaking. It was an accident – and I would never do it again,” recalled a still apologetic Botham.
“It was before the game against England, and we were going through a line out walkthrough.”
While the rest of the forwards listened intently, Botham, as yet unfamiliar with how things are done, made the mistake of turning to his teammate to ask a technical question, right in the middle of his skipper’s talk.
“I was asking a question to one of the other boys about tail-gunning, and he just… stopped. He looked straight at me and said, ‘You all right, Jim?’”
As Botham tells it, it was very much a rhetorical question from the 152-cap Welsh icon as opposed to a genuine inquiry into the young buck’s well being.
“I went straight back into my shell, put it that way. I shut up and listened to every word from then on in. I should have waited and asked at the end.”
If anything it’s an endearing anecdote – the fresh-faced newbie making an amusing misstep in hallowed company. No doubt he’ll have many more opportunities to make an impression with Wales, even if it’s not in his immediate future.
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