Gorgodze hints at extending club career after signing off with Georgia

The Lelos legend is looking forward to life after international rugby, whatever it brings, but is excited at the prospect of bowing out against the Wallabies.

OMAEZAKI, 10 Oct - Mamuka Gorgodze will call time on his international rugby career when Georgia's World Cup campaign comes to an end after Friday's Pool D match against Australia, but the talismanic giant's club career may go on a little longer than previously expected. 

Having first retired from the national team in 2017, a run of injuries in the squad resulted in Gorgodze's recall to the national team for RWC 2019.

He remained at French club RC Toulon during the Lelos' three-month World Cup preparation phase but he believes the physicality of the Top 14 competition in France, where he has played since 2005, meant he arrived for duty in Japan in excellent condition.

"The guys who can play Top 14 and feel good about it physically, they can play at the World Cup, no problem." 

It is difficult to argue with him when you consider his statistics so far in Japan. 'Gorgodzilla' has made 19 tackles at a success rate of 95 per cent in his three appearances, the best in Georgia's team.

Against Australia he will earn his 15th World Cup cap, bringing him level with Merab Kvirikashvili for all-time Georgian World Cup appearances.

But while his international career is drawing to a close, he is yet to make a definitive call on his club career, having previously stated that the 2019-20 season - the final one of his contract at Toulon - would likely be his last.

"[When I said that] I had a lot of injuries and my morale was low. But this year I feel so much better than last year and the year before that.

"While I won't start looking for a club myself, if I play well and someone contacts me and a club wants me, I am ready to discuss." 

Gorgodze knows he cannot continue playing rugby forever, however, and has begun to consider life after the game, including a return to his homeland after more than a decade in France.

"First, I want to return to Georgia. Maybe I will start a little business, I really don't know yet. But I don't want to stay involved in rugby, at least for now."

He is adamant that he does not want to go into coaching, development or administration of the sport, but will not shun the rugby world entirely should it come calling.

"If Georgia needs me for something, of course I will be ready to stand next to them and the rugby family in Georgia.

"But I don't want to become a coach or anything like that. You can still stay close to rugby without being directly involved, and that is how I feel for now."

Off the pitch, Gorgodze has a teenage daughter and two sons, one aged 11 and the other just one. He says he is most looking forward to spending more time with them.

"We also have two dogs at home, so I really don't have time for much else. I used to love hunting, all types of game, in France and Georgia. I loved hunting birds, but that is finished now. I just can't do it anymore. I've become very humane, and I can no longer hunt animals." 

Looking back on his career, Gorgodze says his most emotional moments on the pitch were competing at his first World Cup in 2007, beating Tonga at RWC 2015, and receiving the Player of the Match award against New Zealand at the same tournament.

Here in Japan, he says the disappointment of losing to Fiji - one of the key matches Georgia targeted to win in Japan - was not easy to accept, but that the team is motivated to bow out in strong fashion against the Wallabies.

"Australia is a huge team. We are all excited and there is nothing to lose. You can't not be excited at a World Cup but to play Australia is something special.

"I have a huge respect for them and I'm looking forward to testing my ageing muscles against the young Australians."

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