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Focus on Georgia

Focus on Georgia

Georgia will arrive in Llanelli to face Wales on Saturday evening determined, as they have been for the last five years or more, to make an impression.

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Los Lelos are a tier two powerhouse having won nine of the last 10 Rugby Europe International Championships.

With World Rugby looking to grow the game around the globe, the question of what to do with Georgia has become more pertinent.

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Whether they will ever be admitted into an expanded Guinness Six Nations remains to be seen, but one thing is certain.

Georgia are definitely looking at their Autumn Nations Cup campaign as an opportunity to prove they are worthy of more regular Test matches against the top countries from both hemispheres.

Ranked 12th in the world, Georgia suffered a 40-0 defeat at Twickenham against England last weekend but will be better for the experience with Wales up next.

Georgia have invested heavily in their management team for this autumn’s campaign with former Ireland outside-half David Humphreys coming in as a consultant.

Humphreys has previously held senior roles with both Ulster and Gloucester.

Humphreys said: “Results are important in professional rugby, but the success of Georgia’s involvement in this competition has to be has the level of performance improved?

“It was much too good an opportunity to turn down when Japan pulled out of the competition and I know from talking to the staff and players here they see this as an incredible opportunity to come in and compete against the top teams. I believe it’s an opportunity we have to take. It’s going to be very difficult against a side like Wales, but we have to at the very least put in a performance which suggests we have the potential to play regularly against tier one nations.”

Wales have faced Los Lelos twice over the past three years.

In 2017 at Principality Stadium they were taken to the wire as they eventually ended with a narrow 13-6 win thanks to a try from Hallam Amos and the boot of Rhys Priestland.

Both sides also met in the opening round of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and even though Warren Gatland’s side ran out 43-14 winners, they were challenged physically throughout.

Georgia may not win any awards for entertainment, but not even the most ardent sceptic could argue against the effectiveness of their pack of forwards or the power of their scrum.

Stereotypically the former Soviet state have always been known for the size of their pack and strength of their set-piece.

But Humphreys insists he has been shocked at the quality of their attack with scrum-half Gela Apradize (Montpellier) and outside-half Tedo Abzhandadze (Brive) two potential stars of the future.

“If you’d asked me about Georgian rugby before I got involved I’d have said they are defined by their set-piece and by their maul and physicality,” said Humphreys.

“It’s true we have a very strong set of forwards, but we are developing a talented back-line which is more creative than they are given credit for.

“We have a quality set of half-backs and even though the pack is still our biggest strength, we are working hard to develop a strong all-round game.”

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