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Georgia's young gun Lobzhanidze ready for World Cup cauldron
September 15, 2015 / 5:07 PM / 2 years ago

Georgia's young gun Lobzhanidze ready for World Cup cauldron

LONDON (Reuters) - Georgia’s teenage scrumhalf Vasil Lobzhanidze, who was still at school during the last Rugby World Cup, will be given the chance to make history and show what he can do on the international stage, coach Milton Haig said.

Rugby Union - Japan v Georgia - Kingsholm - 5/9/15 Vasil Lobzhanidze of Georgia (C) in action Action Images via Reuters / Ian Smith Livepic

The 18-year-old, whose hero is England World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson, is set to become the youngest player to appear at a Rugby World Cup if he plays in any of Georgia’s Pool C games.

If he features against New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga or Namibia he will surpass the previous youngest -- American Thretton Palamo who had just turned 19 when he played against South Africa in 2007.

“He’s in the squad because he’s one of the top three scrum-halves in Georgia, and he’s our number one No 9. He’s earned his place through his play, and obviously he brings a lot of youth and vitality to the team,” coach Milton Haig told a news conference at his team’s hotel in Bristol on Tuesday.

”He’ll certainly feature, we’re still in the selection process so whether that’s in the first game (against Tonga on Saturday) or the last game (against Namibia) we don’t know yet, but he’ll definitely play. There’s no doubt.”

Lobzhanidze, who will turn 19 at the end of the pool stage, made his test debut for Georgia against Germany in the European Nations Cup in February and was a member of their side which won the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy a couple of months later.

Haig has no doubts about the scrumhalf’s maturity on the pitch, despite his lack of international experience.

“Although he’s only 18 he plays and makes decisions like a 25 or 26-year-old, and he makes good decisions under pressure,” he said.

Lobzhanidze, who has been at top Georgian side Armazi Tbilisi since the age of 11, said it was a “dream come true” to be part of the Lelos’ World Cup squad.

“There is not one person in particular who I look up to, it’s really the whole team,” he said of his team mates.

”From everyone I have learned something, all the boys who play in this team are immensely experienced in comparison to myself, so I am able to learn something from all of them.”

Reporting by Justin Palmer, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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