Talismanic Mamuka Gorgodze is 'key to Georgia’s RWC 2019 campaign'

16-Sep-2015

By www.rugbyworldcup.com

 

BRISTOL, 15 Sept – The performance of Georgia captain Mamuka Gorgodze will be key to the Lelos’ hopes of achieving their goal of finishing third in Pool C at Rugby World Cup 2015, says coach Milton Haig.

 

“Obviously one of the main guys for us is going to be our captain, Mamuka Gorgodze, because generally when he plays well, we play well," Haig said. Gorgodze, the Toulon-based flanker, is nicknamed ‘Gorgodzilla’ in France and ‘Gulliver’ by Georgia fans for his towering size.

 

"He’s a kind of talisman for us, and he’s our leader,” Haig said.

 

The coach will also look to other key players, among them the 2014 Georgian player of the year, Merab Sharikadze, props Mikheil Nariashvili and two-time World Cup veteran Davit Zirakashvili, and Vito Kolelishvili at No 7, who is known as ‘Le Yeti’ at his French club side Clermont.

 

'LEICESTER LOVED HIM'

 

“There’s also the young Giorgi Tkhilaishvili who is a locally-based Georgian player," said Haig. "He trialled for Leicester recently and they loved him, but his English just wasn’t quite there yet. And we’ve got some younger guys on the wing - Muraz Giorgadze is a young and exciting talent, as well as Merab Kvirikashvili at fullback.

 

“So we’ve got experience where we need it and talent where we need it. The squad is a neat blend of youth and experience and that’s what you want, some competitiveness in the side with the young guys challenging the older guys for positions. It’s just about making sure they can blend together on the day to get the job done and get the result.”

 

Haig’s ultimate goal for the Lelos is to secure automatic qualification for RWC 2019 with a third-place finish in their pool, something the Georgians have never achieved.

 

NEED TWO WINS

 

“You don’t have to be an Einstein to work out that means we’ve got to win two matches, and picking up a bonus point or two is also going to be important.

 

"New Zealand will be very difficult obviously, and Argentina have just beaten South Africa recently so they are going to be very difficult as well, but our guys play against them [some of their players] in France quite a bit so they know them and aren’t afraid of them.

 

“But realistically it’s Namibia and Tonga that we need to beat to have any chance of getting into that third position.”

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