Two World Cup supermen will hurtle into seismic collision as Namibia and Georgia take their last tournament turn – both battered, but unbowed and fiercely proud.
Titans, captains and statesmen Jacques Burger and Mamuka Gorgodze will lock horns in an enthralling back-row battle at Exeter’s Sandy Park on Wednesday.
Neither global superstar will grace the World Cup’s knock-out stages – but rather than wallow in self-pity, both men will put their bodies on the line for national service once more.
Namibia are still hunting their first-ever World Cup win, and facing Georgia will represent their 19th tilt for that elusive tournament victory.
“I’ve had to do a lot of interviews after losing but never once was I ashamed to be called Namibian,” captain Burger tweeted ahead of the Georgia clash.
Saracens flanker Burger has had as many as six operations on just one knee, and countless other patch-up jobs on the rest of a racked body.
The 32-year-old tackling dervish still numbers among the world’s most combative back-row forwards however, and has clearly lost none of his gritty edge.
Toulon loose-forward Gorgodze has once again proved Georgia’s inspirational leader at this World Cup, Milton Haig’s side’s sole victory coming in an impressive 17-10 triumph over Tonga.
Gorgodze was named man of the match despite Georgia losing out 43-10 to New Zealand at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Friday.
The 31-year-old’s humble look of surprise and honour on learning of his award lit up still further a dogged and commendable performance from Georgia against the defending champions.
Georgia have made wholesale changes to face Namibia, but Gorgodze is retained in the back-row.
Head coach Haig called on his players to show heart and courage against the All Blacks, and will repeat the demand one more time.
“I asked the boys during the week before the All Blacks game to play with a bit of pride, for their country, to show the rugby world what Georgian rugby is all about,” said Haig.
“For large parts of the game that’s what we did.
“I was a proud coach then, and I know my players can make me proud again.”
Giles Mole will be here from 7.30pm to bring you all the build-up and live coverage