Mamuka Gorgodze was the surprise inclusion as Milton Haig confirmed Georgia’s squad for Rugby World Cup 2019 on Monday.
Legendary back-row Gorgodze – his country’s record try-scorer with 25 – won the last of his 71 caps against Romania in March 2017 but has agreed to return to the test arena following a run of injuries in the Georgia camp.
He is now in line to play at a fourth Rugby World Cup and add to his 11 tournament appearances, albeit this time as a second-row, the position he played at France 2007.
Four years ago he scored tries in the Lelos' victories over Tonga and Namibia, and was also named Player of the Match following the 43-10 defeat to New Zealand in Cardiff.
Centre Davit Katcharava, with more than 100 tests to his name, has also played at three editions of the quadrennial tournament, and like Gorgodze has been on the pitch for all four of the Lelos’ Rugby World Cup victories.
In total, Haig has included 18 players with previous Rugby World Cup experience in his squad, including scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze who became the youngest player in the tournament's history when he appeared against Tonga aged 18 years and 340 days at England 2015.
U20S TO RWC 2019
Sandro Todua, Lasha Malaghuradze, Lasha Khmaladze, Jaba Bregvadze, Giorgi Nemsadze and Shalva Sutiashvili will all travel to their third tournament.
Fly-half Tedo Abzhandadze and hooker Vano Karkadze, meanwhile, have been selected by Haig having represented Georgia at the World Rugby U20 Championship 2019 in Argentina, where the Junior Lelos finished 10th under the captaincy of Abzhandadze.
Haig has opted for a 17-14 split between back and forwards, with 10 of the players selected plying their trade in Georgia’s domestic top division.
Georgia first qualified for a Rugby World Cup in 2003, and have competed in each edition since.
Their route to Japan 2019 was secured via their best ever performance at the tournament in England four years ago. Georgia finished third in Pool C, having beaten Tonga and Namibia while losing to Argentina and the All Blacks.
The Lelos’ 2019 campaign kicks off against Wales at the City of Toyota Stadium on 23 September and they are scheduled to play Uruguay six days later before Pool D matches against Fiji and Australia.
Georgia squad for Rugby World Cup 2019
Forwards: Mikheil Nariashvili, Guram Gogichashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Vano Karkadze, Levan Chilachava, Giorgi Melikidze, Beka Gigashvili, Giorgi Nemsadze, Shalva Sutiashvili, Mamuka Gorgodze, Kote Mikautadze, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Lasha Lomidze, Otar Giorgadze, Beka Gorgadze, Beka Saghinadze.
Backs: Sandro Todua, Soso Matiashvili, Mirian Modebadze, Zurab Dzneladze, Davit Katcharava, Merab Sharikadze, Tamaz Mtchedlidze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Lasha Malaghuradze, Lasha Khmaladze, Tedo Abzhandadze, Giorgi Begadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Gela Aprasidze.