World Cup Watch – Mamuka Gorgodze

by Rhys Knott

Back rower and occasional second row Gorgodze is one of the increasing numbers of Georgian players plying their trade in France’s Top 14 competition.  Gorgodze, along with 3 other Georgian forwards, props Giorgi Jgente, Goderdzi Shivelidze and number 8 Giorgi Chkhaidze where members of the Montpellier Herault RC side who surprised many by making it to the Top 14 final at the Stade de France in June.  They narrowly lost the final to Stade Toulosain 15-10 but Gorgodze played an important role in getting them to the Final scoring 3 tries in his 22 league appearances last season.

Gorgodze has signed a three year deal with Rugby Club Toulonnais and will line up alongside other “Galacticos” including Bakkies Botha and Mathieu Basteraud once his involvement in the in the World Cup has ended.

The 27 year old has featured in the number 7 shirt for Montpellier this season but with less competition for places in his National side than his club side I expect him to be Georgia’s first choice number 8 come the 14th of September in Invercargill when they open their World Cup campaign against Scotland.

As you would expect from a 6 feet 5 inch tall, 18 stone 8 lbs (117.9 kgs) Georgian forward Gorgodze is a very physical presence in defence and stops most ball carriers on the gain line before driving them back and putting his pack on the front foot.  Gorgodze’s most impressive attribute is his ball carrying though and he has a frightening turn of pace for such a giant human being.  You Tube is littered with clips of him out pacing forwards, who aren’t even as big as him and running over any back who is unlucky enough to be in his path.

The one area where Gorgodze is sometimes found wanting is keeping his cool, the number of clips on You Tube of him becoming “involved” with opposition players is nearly as numerous as the ones of him displaying his monstrous power.  He received 4 yellow cards in last season’s Top 14, more than any other Montpellier player.

While Georgia maybe 2000-1 shots to win the World Cup they have more than a reasonable chance of causing the odd upset and winning a few group matches.  Their first game against Scotland should provide a tough challenge for a Scottish team who have chosen to rest some of their forwards since the end of the 6 Nations.

Georgia will surely fancy their chances against near rivals Romania and in their final group match they take on Argentina in a game that could see the Pumas under a lot of pressure to win and secure qualification from the group.  Gorgodze should be a key player for his National side as he has scored 18 tries in just 33 appearances for them so far and playing at number behind such a big, physical tight 5 should allow him to add that tally before September is over.

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