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Leinster's Abdaladze named in 34-man Georgia squad

By Ian Cameron
Vakhtang Abdaladze of Leinster during the pre-season friendly match between Harlequins and Leinster at Twickenham Stoop in London, England. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster prop Vakhtang Abdaladze has been named in Georgia’s squad for the Autumn Nation Series.

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He is one of seven uncapped players that has been called into the 34-man squad for Los Lelos’ run of games this November which includes Wales, Uruguay and Samoa.

Levan Maisashvili’s side have been blindsided by a spate of injuries and bans, with the propping department especially hard hit.

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As well as Abdaladze; Sergo Abramishvili, Aleksandre Kuntelia, Tengiz Peranidze, Giorgi Margalitadze, Luka Matkava and Otar Lashkhi have also been called up.

Abdaladze is an interesting case, as he has represented Ireland at U20s level and if he is capped for Georgia this November, he will obviously lose his status as an Irish-qualified player.

The 6’1, 121kg prop has played 21 times for Leinster since making his debut in 2018, most of which have come from the bench. The 26-year-old’s father played for Georgia, but Abdaladze moved with his family to Ireland at the age of five and grew up playing rugby in the Irish suburbs and for his school, Castleknock College.

His Georgian call-up appears to signal the end of any aspirations he may have held to represent Ireland at Test level.

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Maisashvili touched on why he has called up the Dubliner and six other uncapped players.

“It’s sad, but we can’t change anything. The fate of a coach is like this and we should always be ready to lose this or that player at some stage. That’s why we want to create depth and bring new players into the team space.”

“Strong opponents and interesting games await us in November,” said Maisashvili. “It is sad that we will lose two main piers – Luka Japaridze and Beka Gigashvili. The first has an injury and underwent an operation, while the second cannot come due to family problems. Beka has never had a problem with joining the national team, and her situation is completely understandable to us. Burji Nika Khatiashvili, Grigor Kerdikoshvili in the second line and Giorgi Tsutskiridze in the third line are also injured, who will return to the field in 2-3 weeks. Due to disqualification, we will not have Gela Afrasidze, who is a great strength for us. Another number 9 Mishiko Alania is injured, as well as Soso Matiashvili and Tornike Kakhoidze.

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“We know Abramishvili and Kuntelia from the under-20 national team, and they have a good reputation from the clubs. Our Sherkin coach Ilia Maisuradze was in “La Rochelle” to raise his qualification and he saw Kuntelia directly in action. Although they are both young, we thought it necessary to see them in action. We also have Abdaladze, who has played in the U-20 Irish national team. There are four debutants from ‘Black Lion’ in the line. We have this team to replace players easily. We had Lashkhi in the expanded lineup before, but he didn’t have to play.”

FRONT ROW: Nika Abuladze (Black Lion), Guram Gogichashvili (Racing 92), Sergo Abramishvili (Stade France); Shalva Mamukashvili (Black Lion), Giorgi Chkoidze (Black Lion), Jaba Bregvadze (Black Lion); Guram Papidze (Po), Vakhtang Abdaladze (Leinster), Aleksandre Kuntelia (La Rochelle);

SECOND ROWS: Kote Mikoutadze (Bayon), Lasha Jayani (Never), Lado Chachanidze (Never), Nodar Cheishvili (Black Lion);

BACK ROW: Beka Saghinadze (Lyon), Beka Gorgadze (Po), Tornike Jalaghonia (Biarritz), Otar Giorgadze (Montobani), Mikheil Gachechiladze (Black Lion), Sandro Mamamvarishvili (Black Lion);

HALFBACKS:  Vasil Lobzhanidze (Briv), Tengiz Peranidze (Black Lion), Giorgi Margalitadze (Black Lion); Tedo Abzhandadze (Montobani), Luka Matkava (Black Lion);

CENTRES: Merab Sharikadze (Black Lion), Deme Tafladze (Black Lion), Lasha Lomidze (Black Lion), Giorgi Kveseladze (Gloucester);

WINGERS: Aka Tabutsadze (Black Lion), Sandro Todua (Black Lion), Mirian Modebadze (Black Lion), Otar Lashkhi (Black Lion);

FULLBACK: Davit Niniashvili (Lyon), Lasha Khmaladze (Black Lion).

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