Davit Kacharava is set to make World Cup history for Georgia as they look to keep their slim prospects of progression alive against Fiji.
The centre will make his 100th start in international rugby in Thursday’s Pool D clash in Higashiosaka, becoming the first Georgia player to do so.
He will be expected to be able to celebrate the landmark with a win against a Fiji side stunned by Uruguay in their most recent encounter.
While Fiji were beaten 30-27 by the South American side, Georgia cruised to a 33-7 victory against the same opposition to get off the mark for the tournament.
Even if they overcome Fiji, Georgia will likely face the mammoth task of having to beat Australia to progress to the quarter-finals.
Fiji, meanwhile, are aiming to end a run of just one win in their last nine World Cup matches.
Each team has made 11 changes, with only Manasa Saulo, Leone Nakarawa, captain Dominiko Waqaniburotu and Semi Radradra retaining their places as Fiji look to claim a win that would boost hopes of automatic qualification for the 2023 tournament in France.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Georgia – Merab Sharikadze
Sharikadze returns as captain having previously been hindered by a knee injury and the skipper will be relied upon to provide a steadying presence and ensure Georgia avoid a shock.
Fiji – Nikola Matawalu
Having helped Fiji salvage two bonus points from the defeat to Uruguay with a pair of late tries, Matawalu’s omission from the XV seems harsh. Look for him to try make an impact off the bench again for the Pacific Islanders.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Georgia and Fiji have met three times previously with Fiji winning twice (2012 & 2018) and Georgia once (2016), this will be their first clash in the Rugby World Cup.
– Georgia have won each of their last five matches against non-Tier 1 opposition at the Rugby World Cup, their last such defeat coming in 2003 against Uruguay.
– Georgia have missed just one of 21 conversion attempts at the Rugby World Cup, kicking the two extra points for each of their 16 tries prior to their game against Uruguay (4/5) in the 2019 edition of the World Cup.
– Fiji lost to Uruguay in their last game despite scoring five tries, only once before in a Rugby World Cup game has a side scored 5+ tries and lost, Wales doing so against Fiji in 2007.
– Vereniki Goneva is Fiji’s top try scorer in Rugby World Cup history, however four of his five tries came on his tournament debut in 2011 against Namibia, since then he has just one try in nine appearances in the competition.
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