Georgia, desperate not to embarrass themselves against the All Blacks at Millennium Stadium on Friday believe the answer is to grab the ball and stop the defending champions getting it. 

The Georgians insist they are not nervous nor overawed for what will be “a big honour” to face the world champions for the first time and on the game’s biggest stage at the World Cup.

“We are not intimidated, there is no inferiority complex or fear. But we are playing against some of the biggest stars in rugby,” said lock Levan Chilachava.

Success will be restricting the score to less than last week’s 54-9 hiding by Argentina against a team with attacking strengths across the park. 

“They are strongest in their open game, their offloading, and their high-speed game is really good. That is the main threat for us and we will have to make our tackles otherwise we will get smashed,” said centre Merab Sharikadze.

“When we have the ball we have to hang on to it, not lose it. If we can do that then they will have less chance to attack us and it will be better for us.” 

Rugby has come a long way in Georgia since their first Test, a 16-3 win over Zimbabwe 36 years ago. 

Now bankrolled by billionaire Picasso collector and former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, they have won the European Nations Cup for tier two sides for the past five years. 

But playing the All Blacks is a big step up and coach Milton Haig, a New Zealander, said it would be a special occasion to battle against the top side and “making sure we get a good performance out of ourselves. 

“They’ve got attacking strengths all over the park so it’s a matter of making sure we’re nice and tight defensively, and that when we do get some attacking opportunities we’re a bit better than we were against Argentina.” 

Georgia were on a high after beating Tonga in the opening game. They have used that performance to lift themselves in training at the luxury Celtic Manor resort in Newport in Wales.

“Everyone is excited. We want to challenge ourselves and see how we can perform against the best team in the world,” said Sharikadze. 

“It’s going to be a big honour for me personally, and for all the boys to play against New Zealand. We want to improve on our performance from the Argentina game and we are looking forward to the chance to do so.” 

Georgia’s training this week has focused on scrums and lineouts with lock Levan Chilachava saying that was key to getting the ball away from an unforgiving All Blacks side. 

“We have to win as much ball as possible if we are going to be able to attack, especially at line-outs and in the scrum. 

“A team like New Zealand is going to have a lot of the ball, so if we can avoid giving away the ball in those areas we will have more ability to attack and a better chance against them.” – Agence France-Presse

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