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Festuccia knows he will have to fight for Zebre place

Guinness PRO12 Editor

20 Jul 2016

Carlo Festuccia is determined to earn an Italy recall after his return to Zebre but acknowledged a regular starting place for the Guinness PRO12 club is not guaranteed.

The hooker spent three years at Wasps after leaving Zebre in 2013 and revealed he could have remained at the club.

The 36-year-old decided on a return to Italy instead but admitted he faces stiff competition at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Festuccia told onrugby.it: “They (the other Zebre hookers) all have lots of potential. I hope to be able to help them out with advice, in terms of managing their throws, also in open play, trying to help them grow and avoid making the errors I made.

“Oliviero Fabiani took on the role last season and grew a lot and playing with continuity which is fundamental. Tommaso D’Apice, without being the youngest, showed his value, while everyone is keen to see Andrea Manici in training. We will all have our say and there will be healthy competition.”

Festuccia was a popular figure at Wasps during his three years at the club and he remained an important member of the squad until the very end, starting in their Premiership and European Champions Cup semi-final defeats.

But Festuccia explained: “To be honest, despite the new arrivals I could have stayed (at Wasps) and Dai (Young) made that clear to me. The choice to go to London was done to get a place at the 2015 World Cup but that wasn’t to be. But the choice was also personal: I have a child who is 22 months old, I could have stayed away for another year but I preferred to go back to be together.”

Festuccia had earned 54 caps when he left Zebre in 2013 but despite being a big hit at Wasps during more than 60 appearances for the English Premiership side, he has not played for his country since.

New Italy head coach Conor O’Shea knows Festuccia well from his time as Harlequins’ director of rugby and has told that 36-year-old that his age will not stop him from having an international future.

Festuccia said: “It’s an objective [to get back into the national team]. I’ve spoken to Conor O’Shea who has seen me playing in England over the last few seasons. I said I was available and the first thing he said was that he doesn’t look at age. The objective is to play a high level of rugby.

“I think it’s very useful that Conor brings his own organisational experience. The position of director of rugby includes those tasks, managing and coordinating the work of other people, which is useful for players.

“In that way he can delegate work to staff, who feel they have responsibility and can grow. The fact that he took a coach from both Treviso and Zebre also clearly indicates how he wants to work.”

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