Sunday 18 February 2018

McLaughlin out to ensure 'destructive' Gorgodze gets the chop

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

WHEN Irish players woke up in a sweat in the aftermath of the 2007 World Cup, it was likely that the face of Mamuka Gorgodze was the one that dominated their nightmares -- Montpellier's giant Georgian is one of the scariest operators in European rugby.

You might forget his name, but after seeing all 18 and a half stone of pure muscle hurtling in your direction, you won't forget his face and Leinster will know all about the 6' 5" back-row on Saturday.

The early-rising World Cup junkies will remember how he drove through Scotland and terrified England, scored a try against Romania and battled manfully against Argentina.

Georgia only won once in New Zealand, but everyone who played against them knew they had been in a game, thanks in no small part to Gorgodze, the class act among a gnarled pack who are at home with the best.

If Georgia had better backs then we'd see them more than once every four years, but now that Montpellier have reached the Heineken Cup, the wider public will soon recognise Gorgodze.


Leinster fans will know him soon enough, while their players are already psyching themselves up to face him.

"We have done a fair bit of homework on him," Leinster back-row Kevin McLaughlin admitted yesterday. "He's huge.

"He's a little bit taller than me, but he's 120 kilos, so it just shows how huge he is. On top of that, he is very important in the line-out to them and he's one of their main restart takers, so he is fast and he is quite agile.

"He is a very destructive runner when he gets a run-up at people, but we are very keen to close down the space and chop him down early. That's the only way to play him, you have to play him on the ground.

"You have got to chop him to the ground and get the next guy in over the ball. We're going to be watching him alright because we know he is a very destructive player."

Other than watching tapes of Georgian man-mountains, McLaughlin has been working on his second-row prowess this week in an attempt to increase his attractiveness to a coaching staff with a wealth of back-rows at their disposal.

"The coaches are very keen that I can cover both rows," he said. "I'm very keen to be able to do that for my own career as well, from an international perspective and from the perspective of Leinster.

"There's not a huge amount of second-rows around. In terms of getting into teams, the more squads you can get into the better."

Irish Independent

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