Tedo Abzhandadze is one of the most exciting talents around just now - we spoke to the Georgian playmaker ahead of their opening game against Portugal.
Brive stand-off Tedo Abzhandadze believes the Georgian backline - and the team’s attacking game in general - is improving all of the time and he is looking forward to showing the country’s supporters that during the coming weeks.
Since he made his debut against Samoa back in 2018 aged just 19, Abzhandadze has been an important part of head coach Levan Maisashvili’s evolution for the Georgia team.
He takes the ball to the line in attack and creates space for his outside backs and having experienced Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan the man with 28 caps to his name really wants to go to the showpiece event in France next year too.
Having finished the Rugby Europe Championship 2021 on 24 points, some 10 points clear of nearest challengers Romania, they are well placed to make it to France ahead of the Rugby Europe Championship 2022.
The points from this year’s Rugby Europe Championship, which gets underway this coming Saturday, February 5, will be added to those from 2021 with the top two from the combined table qualifying for the showpiece event and a third team going through to another qualifying tournament.
Georgia start off their year of rugby with a home game in the Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in the capital Tbilisi on Sunday against Portugal (3pm local, 11am UTC).
“We are all very much looking forward to the game,” 22-year-old Abzhandadze, who now has 28 caps, said.
“Whenever we have the chance to come together as a national team squad it is an honour and we especially love playing games at home because the Georgian fans are so passionate and rugby is continuing to grow in our country.
“In the past years Georgia have always been known for having big forwards who get the team going well in attack and the great thing now is that we still have that, but we have lots of skilful backs too and our backline is always improving.
“We showed this last year when we scored a number of good tries from behind the scrum and myself and the other backs have been working hard to create connections and really make Georgia a difficult team to beat from many different aspects.”
So, what about this game against Portugal?
“They are an improving team and the standard in general in the Rugby Europe Championship is improving year-on-year and that is great for rugby in general,” he said.
“We know what sort of challenge they will bring, but we are very much focused on ourselves, improving further on last year’s performances and, as a set of backs, exciting the crowd when we get on the ball.
“This is a brilliant squad to be part of - there are talented players throughout with a good mix of older and younger - and we want to get off to a good start this weekend and then build from there.
“We know we have the fans behind us and that means a lot, they really do help us to perform well and it inspires us to represent them on the pitch.”