Done - Gorgodze goes to Japan!

03-Sep-2019

 

Georgia's all-time top try-scorer Mamuka Gorgodze returns to the squad to play at the Rugby World Cup 2019!

 

The 35-year-old Georgian announced his retirement from international rugby in 2017. There have been numerous attempts since then to return him to the squad, but Gorgodze's position remained unchanged. He thought that the advantage had to be given to young players, but after back-rower Giorgi Tustskiridze and Captain Merab Sharikadze got injured, Gorgodze changed his mind in favor of the national team’s needs.

 

Both players got injured in a first pre-RWC warm-up match against Southern Kings in Tbilisi - Tsutskiridze fractioned a bone, had surgery and thus became unavailable for Japan, while Sharikadze needs a 3-week rehabilitation.

 

In such a situation, Gorgodze's return was a must. There were numerous calls on his phone, and the request of the Georgian Prime Minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze, himself a former rugby player, was decisive:

 

“I had a solid decision not to return to international rugby, but the current situation in a team, caused my return – I was needed, and I came back! Two of our strong players got injuries – team captain Merab Sharikadze and Giorgi Tsutskiridze, who was in outstanding shape. It’s a huge disappointment for him, but he is young, and he should not give it up. I am sure he will get his opportunity in the future.”

 

“I decided to retire three years ago, as I wished the fans to remember Mamuka Gorgodze at his best, meanwhile I wanted the young players to get their chance. During these three years, I was repeatedly approached with offers to change this decision, but I always refused. And when those injuries took place, players told me that I simply had to come back. I got a call from Mamuka Bakhtadze as well and I decided to return.”

 

Depends on ‘Toulon”

 

It was not only up to his or fans’ wishes to play for Georgia in Rugby World Cup. Mamuka is a professional rugby player and has commitments to his club, which was long aware that he had retired from international career. So, the negotiations began with Toulon, which successfully finished on September 2:

 

 

“I have never put the club’s interests ahead of the national team’s. But I am a professional rugby player with a contract, and the club has its own goals and aims. For three years they knew in Toulon that I was not going to participate in RWC, and suddenly this changed. The coach told me he knew how important playing for the national team was and how passionate the Georgian fans were, but if he did not have three other locks in the team, he would not have been able to release me. At the start of the season, we were only 2 locks there, because the third one had an injury, and Taofifenua was invited to the French national team. It is nothing to do only with law or contract, to me the word and promise is stiffer than any contract, so I had to be morally right,” Gorgodze adds and reacts to Georgian fans’ feedback.

 

“I really do not know what much I did for the national team that I get so much warmth and affection from the Georgian fans. I feel a little bit embarrassed and humbled and this responsibility increases even more at such times as now. I can only express my highest gratitude to them and try to pay them back by doing my best on the pitch.”

 

 

"Let's see what is the maximum"

 

As Gorgodze had finished his international career, naturally he did not go through the preparation stage with The Lelos. Instead, he trained with his club, spending 80 minutes on the field in each of the first two matches of the Top 14 and scoring two tries against Agen, but Mamuka is cautious:

 

“I have not been with the team for three years, nor have I been through all the preparation phases and there is a great risk that I will not be able to blend in. I want people to understand this correctly, my return means nothing and the team’s well-being is the main thing. I will stand up for the boys as much as I can and will not spare myself, though I am 35 years old and I cannot say what will be the maximum of my abilities.”

 

“The fact that I scored two tires in Top 14, does not mean a lot. One may do nothing for the whole game but be in the right place in the right moment and score two tries. To my own surprise, I am in great shape in spite of my age. I play all 80 minutes, but there is one moment –recovery is not as quick as it was before.”

 

“I will not spare myself”

 

This will be the fourth Rugby World Cup for Mamuka Gorgodze. The Lelos had a historic match lately, we hosted a Tier 1 nation - Scotland in Georgia for the first time in our history. Scotland won with a big margin, 44-10, which caused a lot of discontent in Georgia, but Mamuka recalls on the previous years’ experience:

 

“I did not like the score either but did anybody hope to win?! Scotland is a great and strong team and they are in perfect shape. They won against France some time ago, which had gone through very serious S&C preparation and I know that for a fact. Georgia has also had a very tough and tiresome conditioning camp, and it is extremely difficult to play after this. Let’s not forget pre-Rugby World Cup 2015 period, when we lost to Newcastle Falcons, Canada and Japan, but we had great tournament after. These games should not be used as criteria for judgement: to be in the best shape at the World Cup, that’s what is important. Again, I was not with the team during this period and I cannot say much, but I am sure, knowing our boys’ character, they will do their maximum in Japan.”

 

As The Lelos are to face Wales, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay in Pool D, Gorgodze thinks that repeating the previous result, of winning two games in a pool, would be a much tougher task this time:

 

“Obviously Australia and Wales are favourites against us. Fiji has a fantastic team, that is far from one we won years ago. And there will not an easy game against Uruguay too.  South American always combat until the very end I am sure they will clash at us.”

 

As for Mamuka’s playing position, he is ready to play anywhere where he is needed:

 

“I will play wherever the team needs me to play at and it’s up to coaches, where they put me.”

 

Gorgodze will team up with The Lelos in London travel to Japan from there on September 8th.

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