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Michael Sadlier

Georgia's participation in Autumn Nations Cup may well be all but forgotten following unexpected, late invite

Michael Sadlier


 

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Beka Gigashvili

Beka Gigashvili

�INPHO/Ryan Hiscott

Neil Doak

Neil Doak

�INPHO/Ryan Hiscott

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Beka Gigashvili

Opportunities tend to emerge in unexpected ways and for Georgia, Japan's withdrawal from the Nations Cup has been exactly what the Lelos have been waiting for.

Mind you, the fact they weren't part of the competition in the first place tells its own tale what with the idea having gained traction over the past few years that Georgia either ought to be brought into the Six Nations at the expense of Italy or as part of an expanded competition.

And in that regard it seems that the Georgians will not be afforded the chance to play off for Nations Cup placings next weekend against Italy as Fiji - if the islanders are able to turn out after coronavirus has put paid to all three of their pool games - are looking certain to be providing the opposition to determine seventh and eighth places in the tournament.

Of course if it turns out that Fiji are still unable to function, it would be just typical for the Georgians. Unable to play top-tier sides outside of the World Cup, this unexpected input into the pandemic-remodelled autumn series will then not only have denied them the opportunity to show whether they can down the Azzurri but also a final game to determine placings.

Scoring some points would also take the bad look off their opening 40-0 reverse to England and last weekend's 18-0 defeat to Wales, though the Lelos did put in a much better shift against Wayne Pivac's wobbly side.

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Not that the Georgians, for all their scrummaging prowess, can expect too much generosity from Ireland whose much-altered side will be out to lay down a noticeable marker to Andy Farrell.

Even so, the visitors' France-based front-row of Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili and Beka Gigashvili will doubtless be relishing the prospect of going head-to-head with the Irish front-row and particularly Finlay Bealham.

 

Whether former Ulster coach Neil Doak - working the Lelos along with David Humphreys - gets to unleash any defence-splitting backline moves will entirely rely on any platform supplied by their scrum-hungry pack.

The danger here for Georgia is that their Nations Cup participation will be all but forgotten and skipper Merab Sharikadze's call for a Georgian franchise to be included in the PRO14, with a view to improving the standard home-based talent when so many already play in France, sounded nothing more than wishful thinking.

Indeed, with the Georgian rugby union's vice-president having reportedly shot and wounded a former player in September, and other rumours of internal turmoil in the organisation, it might just be that further inclusion of Georgia, post-Nations Cup, isn't really on anybody's mind. 

Belfast Telegraph


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