Wales international James Botham—grandson of England cricket legend Ian—will be sidelined for the start of Cardiff’s rugby campaign having enjoyed a breakout season in the capital last term
The 23-year-old enjoyed a breakout spell at Cardiff Arms Park last season and earned his senior Wales debut in November, building momentum as one of the country’s top prospects.
But that progress will be disrupted as Botham bids to recover before the end of the calendar year, robbing Cardiff of one of their most promising talents on the eve of the new campaign.
Botham made his senior debut for Cardiff in 2019 and was selected for Wales duty a little more than 18 months later, enjoying a meteoric rise for both club and country.
Coach Dai Young has returned to the Welsh capital after spending just short of a decade with Wasps, but a club statement confirmed Botham will be absent when the new campaign gets underway.
The youngster is four weeks into his recovery and “targeting a return to action in November,” meaning Wayne Pivac is highly unlikely to have the flanker among his options.
Botham’s absence comes as another back-row blow for the country considering Ospreys captain Justin Tipuric is expected to be missing until Christmas, also struggling with a shoulder injury.
Wales boss Pivac might hope to have another Cardiff talent, Ellis Jenkins, among his options provided he can stay healthy, having returned to fitness after more than two years out injured earlier in 2021.
Josh Navidi is another flanker option currently playing in the capital, and Cardiff confirmed he’ll return in a fortnight following his involvement with the British and Irish Lions this summer.
Winger Josh Adams is also in the last two weeks of his post-tour holidays, hoping to get over the Lions’ 2-1 series defeat to South Africa.
He then started in each of his country’s summer Tests against Canada and Argentina (twice), bringing his cap total up to nine in a little less than eight months.
Wales have alternative options at their disposal, but Cardiff are more certain to feel the player’s absence ahead of the inaugural United Rugby Championship.
They’ll host Irish outfit Connacht in their season-opener on September 24, with Cardiff then facing fixtures against the Ospreys, Bulls, Sharks and Dragons before the end of October.
Botham’s earliest possible league return may therefore be the Round 6 fixture away to the Lions at Ellis Park on November 28, with Cardiff’s European Champions Cup campaign slated to start in December.