Georgia is ready for battle today. So assured Head Coach Milton Haig, during an interview with the Weekend Observer yesterday.
“We are ready,” said Haig. “I said earlier this week that this is a great occasion for our Union and for our country to be here. It’s important for us. I know Alama would say the same thing. The game is just a matter of making sure that we put out best foot forward today.”
Coach Haig said today is about doing the best you can with the players available.
“We still have eight players back in France who weren’t able to come for this game. But that’s not new for us and we’ve had to deal with that for many years.
“Against Samoa today, we’ve got the best team that’s available; most of these players have played in February and March during the European National Cup.
“So again, we thought that we’ve selected the best team to do the job for us.”
Unlike Manu Samoa who have named nine new caps in today’s playing team, Coach Haig said they have only selected one new cap for this tour and he will not be playing.
In terms of preparations, Haig said one week is never enough but that is the nature of international rugby.
“We always feel that we need more time for trainings and preparations.
“But that’s the nature in international rugby; you can get together a team for a week and prepare them for a game. Fortunately for us, most of these guys have been in the team for four years now, so they know what we want from them and what we expect, so we transition pretty well.
“We didn’t do hardcore trainings in the first three days we arrived because it was a really long trip to get here and so we wanted to give our boys some time to recover from the trip.
“So on our fourth day here, all the boys were ready for training and get on the field and we’re as prepared as we can to play against Samoa.”
Coach Haig said he expects a confrontational battle up front. “I know that the Samoans are very proud of their team and I know that they will get behind their team today and I can’t blame them for that, I mean it’s their team.
“I think everyone is nervous. I think Manu Samoa is as nervous as we are at the moment, but that’s all part of an international test match.
“Like I said earlier this week, we’ve got two big teams coming up against each others. So it always brings some sort of anxiety into it because you’re just not too sure what will happen.”
Asked what his message will be to his team before kick off, he said: “Not much different from what we always do, just a matter of making sure that they understand the responsibility and how important it is to wear the jersey, and the responsibility they have to our country back in Eastern Europe and the four and a half million people in our country, so I will just remind them of how important it is that they represent themselves well and they represent the country well. And if they do that, we can’t ask anymore.”
Coach Haig told the Weekend Observer that they’ve been working on a few different new game plans for the game today; however, he said we would have to wait for today to that find out. “Well obviously this is the start of a new tour, and so we’ve been working on a few different things during our preparations. But then again, rugby is rugby. You’ve got to get the ball, you’ve got to score tries and you have to tackle and we’ve been practicing a lot of that.”
Lastly, Coach Haig wished Coach Namulaulu and the management all the best.
“I know a lot of the guys at the new Manu Samoa management, and a few of the players as well. They are my good friends, and some of them are ex-players of mine from the time I was in New Zealand.
“So I wish them all the best and I also wish Alama the best of luck for you know we are competitors on the field but we are friends off the field.”