Georgia forwards coach Graham Rowntree has been described as “technically one of the best” prior to Monday’s World Cup clash against Wales.
Rowntree’s work with a renowned Georgia pack could prove a pivotal feature of the Pool D encounter.
The former England and British and Irish Lions assistant coach is well-known to many of the Wales players, including hooker Ken Owens, who worked with Rowntree in New Zealand two years ago.
Georgia’s Giorgi Nemsadze wins a lineout against Wales at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff (David Davies/PA) “Having worked with Graham Rowntree on the Lions tour, he’s a very good coach,” Owens said.
“Technically, he’s one of the best, and I am sure he will have some things up his sleeve. I am sure they will be looking to put a marker down.
“There is no hiding place in international rugby. A lot of coaches and players’ paths have crossed over the years in different situations and matches.
“With the way analysis is now, everyone is very thorough on each other.
“I am just looking forward to that challenge. They’ve made no secret about the fact they are coming after our scrum, and that is something we will have to meet head-on.”
Georgia gave Wales a tough game in Cardiff during the 2017 autumn Tests before losing 13-6, and although they are world-ranked seven places below their opponents, it is far from a straightforward opener for the Six Nations champions.
Georgia qualified automatically for the World Cup after finishing third in their group four years ago, beating Tonga and Namibia to achieve that feat.
But former England flanker Joe Worsley knows the size of Georgia’s challenge, especially having worked under Wales head coach Warren Gatland at Wasps when they won English and European titles between 2002 and 2005.
Worsley, who is part of Georgia’s coaching staff, said: “I have been watching Warren since he left Wasps.
“I saw what he did at Wasps – I experienced it – and I’ve seen from afar what he has done with the Wales team.
“He has transformed them – weren’t they knocked out (of the 2007 World Cup) by Fiji just before he got involved? – to a team that has been winning Grand Slams and became the best in the world for a short period.
“So, it speaks volumes of the man.
“While I admire him, it makes it a more difficult proposition to play against one of those teams because you know on the pitch the rugby organisation is great, and the drive he gives the staff and players is intense and lifts them up all year, every year, which makes them a strong team.”