Eight players who helped Georgia to a 10th-place finish on their World Rugby U20 Championship debut in 2016 return for this year’s tournament on home soil.

Forwards Ushangi Tcheishvili, Lasha Tabidze and Ilia Spanderashvili are joined by five backs in Gela Aprasidze, Davit Meskhi, Mirian Modebadze, Lado Miminoshvili and Giorgi Kveseladze.

However, fly-half Davit Modzgvrishvili, who was an ever-present for the Junior Lelos in Manchester, is not available because of an injury he received during last month’s series of warm-up games against the Western Province Academy XV. Full-back Luka Yurin's hopes of appearing at his first tournament have been dashed for the same reason.

“It is very fortunate to have players available from last year’s tournament. They are all very experienced and I believe that their experience will play a huge role in our campaign,” said Maisuradze.

Maisuradze has also placed six players on standby in case of injuries.

The Junior Lelos, who won their first-ever game at this level when they beat Italy 18-17 in Manchester, will face Argentina, South Africa and France during the pool stages in Tbilisi.

STRONG OPPOSITION

Maisuradze expects a stern test from all three opponents and knows that managing his squad will be key.

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“We face Argentina at the opening game. Los Pumitas are a good, powerful side who’ve prepared in New Zealand by playing against the junior selections of the Hurricanes, Blues and Canterbury. I was very impressed by the highlights I saw,” he said.

“Traditionally South Africa are a physical side and we’ll need to defend well against them in the mauls. We must also do our best to be strong and precise in defence, because everybody believes that playing a wide game against us will give them a chance.

“The Junior Boks are a great team; they have played against academies and provincial selections, winning games with 60-point margins," he continued.

“We were impressed by France after watching them play in the U20 Six Nations. They’re a great side who’ve got some really big boys. They play quite atractive rugby and have good half-backs.

“We plan to take any chances that come our way, but it is also important for us to spread game time evenly amongst all the players. As the schedule is quite tight, we will have to manage our squad and workload smartly to be in the best shape possible at any given moment.” 

Georgia squad

Forwards: Ushangi Cheishvili, Guram Gogichashvili, Levan Papidze, Tengiz Zamtaradze, Lasha Tabidze, Guram Papidze, Revaz Dugladze, Lasha Jaiani, Koba Jimsheleishvili, Beka Saghinadze, Shota Areshidze, Ilia Spanderashvili (captain), Arsen Machaladze, Tornike Jalagonia, Giorgi Nutsubidze, Aexandre Kalmakhelidze.

Backs: Gela Aprasidze, Saba Svimonishvili, Luka Dvalishvili, Tedo Abzhandadze, Giorgi Tsiklauri, Giorgi Gogoladze, Bezhan Gavashelishvili, Akaki Tabutsadze, Davit Meskhi, Lado Miminoshvili, Giorgi Kveseladze, Mirian Modebadze.

Reserves: Alexandre Nakhutsrishvili, Beka Mamukashvili, Sandro Mamamtavrishvili, Levan Chavchavadze, Giorgi Nutsubidze, Giga Grugalashvili.