Watching Beka Gorgadze play England and Wales on his own was an interesting experience, the young Georgian No.8’s carrying and tackling and organising and all-round stand-up-to-be-countedness confirming him as a back rower of undisputed international quality. Which is good news for Georgia. One down, just the 14 to go.
The lazy name for it is “Sergio Parisse Syndrome” – shorthand for the extreme challenge faced by a star turn who invariably takes the field against top-tier opposition in the knowledge that the best he can hope for is a complete and utter towelling.
But “SPS” is in no way an accurate description of Gorgadze’s situation. For all Parisse’s heroics in unsuccessful Italian sides over a barely imaginable stretch of 17 years – 142 Tests, 106 defeats – the great man could always catch a whiff of genuine talent around him if he inhaled deeply enough.
On current evidence, Gorgadze is not in that position. Far from it. He is out there on his Jack Jones, and the fact that he catches the eye as often as he does marks him out as a proper player. Here, in homage to his Lone Ranger forerunners, is a team of those who somehow found the wherewithal to play Ritz-level rugby in a team of Travelodgers.
15 Vasily Artemyev (Russia): His side conceded damned near 200 points in four outings at the 2011 World Cup, yet the Muscovite’s mastery was enough to secure a Premiership contract with Northampton.
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