Georgian rugby players pay tribute to Milton Haig, the former head coach of the national team, in a new video released by the Georgian Rugby ruling body and national team sponsors TBC Bank.
Following the departure of Haig at the end of his contract with the team at the conclusion of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the brief video shows players of the Lelos squad offer their gratitude to the New Zealander.
The team's backs Soso Matiashvili and Merab Sharikadze speak about their experience of playing under Haig, who assumed responsibilities of the head coach in 2011, and the latter's rapport with the local culture in Georgia.
Sharikadze credits Haig for having been easy to communicate with, a trait the Lelos back notes is not common among head coaches, while Matiashvili shares his insight of the coach as someone who "got to know Georgian rugby [and mentality] in a very profound way".
Haig was invited to head the Lelos, an emerging rugby team that had newly arrived on the international scene, after his work as assistant coach of the Chiefs club in New Zealand. He also worked in the role for Māori All Blacks and New Zeland's Under-21 national team between 2006-2011.
Under his management the Georgian team qualified for the 2015 Rugby World Cup as winners of the European Nations Cup First Division, the squad also emerging dominant in the ENC tournament over the following years.
At the 2015 competition Georgia secured automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup by finishing third in their pool. The 2019 competition saw the Lelos score a win against Uruguay but lost to Wales, Australia and Fiji, finishing fourth in Pool D.
Haig departed his role for Georgia to head Japan's Top League club Suntory Sungoliath earlier this month.