Wales take on Georgia in Cardiff on Saturday as they aim to build on a vital 20-13 victory over Argentina last weekend that temporarily kept the wolves from the door following a poor Six Nations, summer tour defeat and autumn international thumping by the All Blacks.
Anything other than a win over tier-2 nation Georgia at the Principality Stadium will be unacceptable but the Lelos are renowned for their pack physicality and will want to lay down a marker ahead of a rematch between the sides at next year’s World Cup.
Wales boss Wayne Pivac has handed a Test debut to back-rower Josh Macleod and hopes it will be third time lucky after the Scarlets forward ruptured his Achilles tendon during a training session just days before Wales’ Six Nations clash with Scotland last year when he was due to start, having previously been ruled out of their 2020 autumn campaign with a hamstring injury after being named in the squad.
“We had a couple of unit sessions this morning and Josh was flying into it. He is not holding back,” Pivac said. “Josh has been selected twice before and has picked up injuries, so it is third time lucky. We are excited to see him go. We’ve wanted to use him on a couple of occasions. We know a lot about him, I have coached him at the Scarlets - he brings a lot of energy and he is very strong over the ball.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the clash:
When is Wales vs Georgia?
The match will kick off at 1pm GMT on Saturday 19 November at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.
How can I watch it?
Like all the 2022 autumn internationals, the match will be shown live on Amazon Prime Video, which can be accessed across a range of digital devices. If you’re not an Amazon Prime Video subscriber start a free 30-day trial here.
What is the team news?
Wayne Pivac has retained nine of the Wales team that started in last weekend’s victory over Argentina. Back-row forward Josh Macleod will make his Test debut however, nearly two years after he was denied a first international appearance when he ruptured his Achilles tendon during a practice session four days before the game.
Macleod will pack down at No 8, while centre Owen Watkin, winger Josh Adams, fly-half Rhys Priestland, lock Ben Carter and flanker Jac Morgan are the other new faces from a week ago.
Winger Louis Rees-Zammit keeps the No. 15 jersey following an impressive switch to full-back in the Pumas game and there are two uncapped players among the replacements in 19-year-old lock Dafydd Jenkins and scrum-half Dane Blacker.
Alexander Todua will win his 100th cap for Georgia, as the Lelos have named a largely familiar side to take on Wales. Todua will line up in the back three alongside Mirian Modebadze and Davit Niniashvili as he marks a century of appearances for his nation.
Giorgi Chkoidze will pack down in the middle of the front row in between Guram Gogichashvili and Guram Papidze, who will earn his second cap in Cardiff. Nodar Cheishvili and Konstantin Mikautadze comprise an experienced second row, while Beka Saghinadze, Beka Gorgadze and Tornike Jalagonia complete the back row, as Otar Giorgadze drops out.
Vasil Lobzhanidze and Tedo Abzhandadze are the half-back pairing once more, with captain Merab Sharikadze and youngster Demur Tapladze in the centre.
Wales XV: 15. Louis Rees-Zammit, 14. Alex Cuthbert, 13. George North, 12. Owen Watkin, 11. Josh Adams, 10. Rhys Priestland, 9. Tomos Williams; 1. Gareth Thomas, 2. Ken Owens, 3. Dillon Lewis, 4. Ben Carter, 5. Adam Beard, 6. Jac Morgan, 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. Josh Macleod
Replacements: 16. Bradley Roberts, 17. Rhodri Jones, 18. Sam Wainwright, 19. Dafydd Jenkins, 20. Taulupe Faletau, 21. Dane Blacker, 22. Sam Costelow, 23. Leigh Halfpenny
Georgia XV: 15. Davit Niniashvili, 14. Mirian Modebadze, 13. Demur Tapladze, 12. Merab Sharikadze, 11. Alexander Todua, 10. Tedo Abzhandadze, 9. Vasil Lobzhanidze, 1. Guram Gogichashvili, 2. Giorgi Chkoidze, 3. Guram Papidze, 4. Nodar Cheishvili, 5. Kote Mikautadze, 6. Beka Saghinadze, 7. Beka Gorgadze, 8. Tornike Jalagonia
Replacements: 16. Shalva Mamukashvili, 17. Nika Abuladze, 18. Alexandre Kuntelia, 19. Lado Chachanidze, 20. Sandro Mamamtavrishvili, 21. Luka Matkava, 22. Lasha Khmaladze, 23. Lasha Lomidze