Georgian rugby youngster selected among world’s top talent

Georgia's Vasil Lobzhanidze in action against Tonga. Photo by AFP., 04 Jan 2016 - 18:59, Tbilisi,Georgia

An up-and-coming Georgian rugby talent has been named among the world's most promising young players expected to thrive in their performances in the New Year.

Georgia scrum half Vasil Lobzhanidze was picked by sports section of the British newspaper The Telegraph for its team of top international rugby youngsters to "take 2016 by storm".

Lobzhanidze - who debuted as the youngest ever Rugby World Cup player in Georgia's winning game against Tonga - found himself alongside talents from leading rugby nations in the list.

Lobzhanidze (C) in action during Georgia's opening Rugby World Cup match against Tonga, in which he became the youngest ever World Cup player. Photo by Rugby World Cup website.

If this man had been born a Kiwi, he would already be acclaimed as a superstar, becoming the youngest player ever to appear in a World Cup when starting for Georgia against Tonga at the age of 18 years and 340 days," the newspaper's selection about Lobzhanidze said.

The teenager also drew praise from Georgia's head coach Milton Haig during last year's World Cup in England:

I first saw [Lobzhanidze] play when I’d just arrived in Georgia and he was with the Under 15s. I thought back then, 'jeez, he can play', although we’re all surprised how quickly he has come through," Haig told the official Rugby World Cup website.

Lobzhanidze (with the ball) during Georgia's World Cup game against New Zealand. Photo by Martin Seras Lima.

The team featured players aged 25 or younger and with 20 national caps or fewer, with athletes from New Zealand and England comprising more than half of the roster combined.

The remaining spots were filled by two players from Australia and one each from South Africa, France, Argentina and Georgia.

Lobzhanidze impressed in Georgia's World Cup showings, appearing in the team's all four games at the tournament that brought his all-time caps to 10 matches.

He was selected for the Team of the Week of the World Cup's opening weekend alongside two other Georgians and also nominated for the World Rugby Breakthrough Player of the Year award.

The Telegraph's full team of world's most promising players can be viewed here.