Georgia second-stringers to face All Blacks

2015-09-30 17:08

Cardiff - Georgia have pulled most their top players from Friday's historic game against the All Blacks to focus on beating Namibia in their final World Cup pool match five days later.

"It's a necessary evil," coach Milton Haig said in naming his line-up on Wednesday, adding it did not sit well with his senior players but they accepted the decision.

For a game which the All Blacks were expected to win comfortably at Millennium Stadium, forecasts for the outcome became even more lopsided when the New Zealanders named their top available side.

Niggling injuries ruled out four players from selection of whom only Ma'a Nonu would be considered a first choice player and his place has been taken by the equally impressive Sonny Bill Williams.

But Haig said Georgia's ultimate target is a win over Namibia in their final pool game to go with their opening round victory over Tonga.

That should be enough to see them qualify third in Pool C and earn automatic qualification for the next World Cup as long as Tonga lose their final two matches against Argentina and the All Blacks.

Only five Georgian players, including standout skipper Mamuka Gorgodze survive from the side that stunned Tonga 17-10.

Tonga picked up a bonus point for the narrow loss and another from their five-try win over Namibia to skip two points clear of Georgia whose second match was a 54-9 hiding by Argentina.

Haig said the squad had been aware from the time they began their training campaign four months ago their aim was to finish third.

That made beating Namibia and overhauling Tonga on the points table paramount no matter how historic their first ever game against the world champion All Blacks.

"There's a few disappointed guys obviously," Haig said.

"They realise that, some of the older guys, their legacy is to do something that no other Georgia team has done and that's to qualify automatically.

"They understand it. They don't like it but it goes with the territory."

Although Georgia used largely the same 23 against Tonga and Argentina, Haig doubted they would lose much in the way of performance with the squad selected to play the All Blacks.

"These guys are fresh. They haven't played any, or very little, time in the World Cup so it's a good chance for them," he said.

"We're looking for a bit of energy against the All Blacks and we think with the depth we've got in the squad it's a good chance for these players.

"We've got a five day back up after this All Blacks game and Namibia's very important for us to achieve our goal of qualifying automatically for 2019. So it's a necessary evil that our focus is on obviously the Namibian game."

Haig acknowledged the significance playing the All Blacks for the first time and although he is a New Zealander his loyalty lay with Georgia.

"When the two national anthems are played then Georgia's my anthem. I will recognise the New Zealand anthem but again my responsibility lies with this team."



15 Beka Tsuklauri, 14 Giorgi Apciauri, 13 David Kacharava, 12 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 11 Alexandr Todua; 10 Lasha Malaguradze, 9 Giorgi Begadze, 8 Lasha Lomidze, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze (capt), 6 Shalva Sutiashvili, 5 Giorgi Chkhaidze, 4 Levan Datunashvili, 3 Levan Chilachava, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Karlen Asieshvili.

Replacements: 16 Simon Maisuradze, 17 Mikhail Nariashvili, 18 Anton Peikrishvili, 19 Kote Mikautadze, 20 Viktor Kolelishvili, 21 Vasil Lobjanidze, 22 Merab Sharikadze, 23 Muraz Giorgadze

New Zealand

15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill-Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Carter, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Wyatt Crockett

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