Let's get wet. He could play for England. For Australia, Ireland, Scotland or maybe even the French team. But Davit Niniashvili (21) has become the darling of the Georgian public. Since 2021, the Lyon winger or full-back continues to impress with his natural qualities. A big defender as evidenced by this destructive tackle on Eben Etzebeth, the golgoth of the Springboks, in the Challenge Cup final against Toulon in May 2022, but also an exceptional attacker, the young phenomenon has returned to World Cup form.
Eliminated in the group stage with the Lelos, Davit Niniashvili hit hard for his return with the LOU during his team's victory two weeks ago against Clermont (41-22). The Georgian international scored twice before scoring a decisive try from teammate Paddy Jackson late in the match. Last weekend, during his team's narrow defeat against Racing 92 (22-20), he once again stood out with a penalty of more than 50 meters. Facing the Stade Français this Saturday (5 p.m.), “Nini”, as he is nicknamed, should once again splash the match with his talent.
What flair from Philippe Agostini, the boss of the LOU training center! It is thanks to the latter that the general public was able to discover Niniashvili after having stolen him in Georgia from his club Khvamli RC. But the athletic three-quarter was first destined to evolve with the hopefuls before finally setting foot on the lawns of the Top 14 during the 3rd day in Perpignan in September 2021. “Nini” then burst onto the screen. For his first season in the elite, he played 14 matches for four tries scored.
“I remember his first training well. It was a young 18-year-old Georgian who arrived. We didn't really know who he was. But straight away we saw that he was very good with the ball in hand, that he made good decisions, that he had good qualities. He has great acceleration. We said to ourselves, 'Wow', who is this young phenomenon from Georgia?" Kendrick Lynn, the ex-coach of the Rhone three-quarters, explained to AFP. A tackle breaker, capable of scoring from afar as well as defending fiercely on a "big", Niniashvili - who extended his contract until 2025 with a strong salary increase - is a complete player, capable of making the difference when he decides. “Every time, we know he will give 100%. He can make the difference in matches. He always stays after training, sometimes even a little too much! He works a lot. I'm not surprised by his performance. He has a lot of confidence in himself,” added Lynn.
The kid from Tbilisi, raised by his mother after his father left the family home, does not seem disturbed by anything or anyone. This lover of combat, contact and spaces is not a difficult player to manage: “In addition to that, he is a boy who is not reserved, open, with a lot of humor. He doesn’t ask himself any questions, his pleasure is in playing,” explained Pierre Mignoni, former LOU coach and now manager of Toulon, in the columns of L’Équipe. His rise was certainly hampered by some injuries last season. But if these physical glitches leave him alone, the Lyon back should continue to walk on water.