Rugby World Cup 2015: Georgia teenager to make history

Vasil Lobzhanidze
Vasil Lobzhanidze will become the first 18-year-old to play at a Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup: Tonga v Georgia (Pool C)
Venue: Kingsholm. Date: Saturday, 19 September. Time: 12:00 BST
Coverage: Live coverage on BBC Radio 5 live and follow text commentary on the BBC Sport website.

Georgia's 18-year-old scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze will become the youngest player in Rugby World Cup history after being selected to play Tonga.

Lobzhanidze, who will not turn 19 until mid-October, is set to beat the record currently held by Thretton Palamo.

The American was 19 years old and eight days when he played against South Africa in 2007.

Georgia and Tonga, who are in Pool C along with New Zealand, play each in Gloucester on Saturday (12:00 BST).

Georgia coach Milton Haig described the opening game as "critical" to his team's hopes of finishing third in the group, which would secure automatic qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that Tonga are in the same position as we are so it's going to be a critical game," he said.

Tonga have made six changes to the team which started against Romania in their last World Cup warm-up match.

Telusa Veainu starts on the wing rather than full-back, with Vunga Lilo wearting the number 15 jersey.

Viliami Ma'afu starts at number eight, while Sione Kalamafoni moves to blindside flanker and Steve Mafi switches to the second-row. Tevita Mailiau starts at loose-head, replacing Soane Tonga'uiha.

Winger Fetu'u Vainikolo will become Tonga's outright leading try scorer should he score on Saturday.

Match stats

  • Tonga have won two of their three Tests against Georgia, including a 23-9 win in Tbilsi in November 2014.
  • The Tongans made 10 clean breaks and 19 offloads in that match in 2014, while Georgia failed to register a single break or offload.
  • Georgia lost 10-13 to Japan at Kingsholm in a World Cup warm-up game in September, while Tonga defeated US 40-12 at the same venue last November.
  • Georgia have lost their last four Tests, scoring a total of just 47 points while conceding 100 points.

Teams

Georgia: Merab Kvirikashvili, Tamaz Mchedlidze, Davit Kacharava, Merab Sharikadze, Giorgi Aptsiauri, Lasha Malaguradze, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Mamuka Gorgodze (captain), Viktor Kolelishvili, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Konstantine Mikautadze, Giorgi Nemsadze, Davit Zirakashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Mikheil Nariashvili.

Replacements: Shalva Mamukashvili, Karlen Asieshvili, Levan Chilachava, Levan Datunashvili, Shalva Sutiashvili, Giorgi Begadze, Giorgi Pruidze, Murazi Giorgadze

Tonga: Vungakoto Lilo, Telusa Veainu, Will Helu, Siale Piutau11, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Kurt Morath, Sonatane Takulua; Viliami Ma'afu, Nili Latu (captain), Sione Kalamafoni, Sitiveni Mafi, Tukulua Lokotui, Halani Aulika, Elvis Taione, Tevita Mailau

Replacements: Paula Ngauamo, Sona Taumalolo, Sila Puafisi, Hale T Pole, Jack Ram, Samisoni Fisilau, Latiume Fosita, Sione Piukala

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