By James Dodd
FORMER British and Irish Lion Ugo Monye has insisted the Autumn Nations Cup is the ideal stage for tier 2 sides to enhance their status.
The competition sees Georgia and Fiji face off competitively with the likes of Wales, England and Ireland, a new development outside of the World Cup.
For the third time in under a month against Wales this weekend, Georgia will face a top ranked team.
“We’re trying to close the gap between tier 1 and tier 2 and this provides the perfect opportunity to test themselves against the very best in the world”, Monye told 5 Live Sport.
“Listening to the Georgian captain speak after the game, although he was disappointed with the result, he said that these opportunities are absolutely what we need if we are to close that gap.
“We’ve seen the funding that has gone into Japanese rugby in the last eight years and you can see what is has meant to them with their performances in the last World Cup.
“Not only is it an opportunity for the tier 1 nations, (there’s opportunities) for some of those individuals to get big pay days and play in France, England and overseas.”
However, a Covid outbreak in the Fijian camp which saw 29 positive results last week has meant their match against Italy this weekend has been cancelled.
This has followed their first match against France being cancelled for the same reasons.
“Having that opportunity taken away from them and having their first two games cancelled, I think it’s hard to see them actually playing a game in this tournament now”, said Monye.
The Autumn Nations Cup will continue this week. England v Ireland and Wales v Georgia takes place on Saturday with Scotland v France on Sunday.