Graham Rowntree: I've admired Georgia for a long time; this job is a perfect fit

Graham Rowntree was England's forwards coach from 2007 to 2015. David Rogers/Getty Images

Former England international Graham Rowntree has described the opportunity to coach Georgia's forwards at the Rugby World Cup as the "perfect fit".

Rowntree left Premiership side Harlequins during the summer, where he had worked for two years as their forwards coach following a lengthy spell with England and the British & Irish Lions.

The former prop, who was capped 54 times by England during his playing career, was unveiled by Georgia in Tbilisi last week and is under contract with the Tier Two nation until the end of the World Cup in November 2019.

"I enjoyed my time at Quins but it was the right time to move on," Rowntree told ESPN. "I spent a few months being around at home as I had been flat out for a long time with my job and I enjoyed the down time.

"I knew I was always going to back in the game somewhere. I've got too much energy to give to the game to not be coaching. This came along and it's just the perfect fit."

Rowntree was offered the role after meeting with head coach Milton Haig, who led Georgia to a third-place finish in their World Cup pool in 2015. That secured automatic qualification for next year's tournament in Japan, a historic first for the nation.

Under Haig, Georgia have been on the rise and are currently ranked 13th in the world. While they aim to break into the top tier nations, they already possess a forwards pack that is revered around the globe.

"I have always been impressed by their forwards -- that's one of the main reasons I joined them," Rowntree said. "I've watched them, played against them, coached against them, including at the 2011 World Cup, and they've got the firepower to challenge people.

"The country itself is stunning. It took me back when I landed there, it's a beautiful country. It's a long, long way away, I'll tell you that. I didn't realise just how far away it was at first."

Until the World Cup, Rowntree will spend most of his time working in France alongside Georgia's Top-14 based forwards, such as Montpellier's Davit Kubriashvili.

"It has been awesome seeing Graham being introduced to the players," said Haig, who is now in his seventh year in charge. "They're meeting him with big eyes because they're meeting this legend of international rugby, and realising that he's going to be coaching them.

"The thing that really impressed me when we first spoke to each other was his enthusiasm about actually being part of the Georgia coaching team. It struck me that he genuinely wants to help us be better. I knew he was the right guy for us."

Rowntree's first match with Georgia is a huge clash against Italy in Florence on Nov. 10, a fixture that has been 10 years in the making and a huge opportunity for the Lelos to demonstrate they are on the same level as their opponents -- who are positioned one place above them in the world rankings.

"The pride of the Georgia team is that all they want to do is perform well," Rowntree added. "Our performances need to be at a level where we can show the world that we are capable of moving up, as we push forward into a massive year for Georgia rugby.

"They know they've got my excitement, experience and energy for the next year, they know that, what happens after that will take care of itself."