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Ten Italian Internationals in Zebre starting line-up for opener


1 Sep 2016


Parma (Italy) September 1, 2016 – Zebre Rugby coaching staff announced today their line-up after completing the team run at Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma.

Tomorrow night the Italians will play their first official game of the Guinness PRO12 season against the Ospreys in Swansea. The Liberty Stadium encounter opposes Zebre Rugby to their former scrum-half Brendon Leonard, beaten only once by Biagi and his team mates in the previous eight meetings in the competition.

There will be ten internationals capped by new Italy head coach Conor O’Shea in the starting XV of the Italian side to face Ospreys, with another four named on the bench. The Parma based franchise will cut the ribbon of their fifth Guinness PRO12 season against a tough opponent on a field where the hosts have never lost to an Italian team, and where Zebre has collected just one point in the season 2012/13. Like last season, a long trip waits Zebre who will remain 10 days in the Wales preparing also their second consecutive Welsh away game of the season in Newport next Friday September 9.

Respect to the last Friday friendly match in Parma against Treviso, coach Guidi can call upon the experienced number 8 Van Schalkwyk – top try scorer of last season after his recovery from the injury suffered with the Italian national team during the summer.

Former Super Rugby side Highlanders and former AllBlacks Seven captain Kurt Baker will make his official debut at fullback. Also fly-half Canna is back in action after one week of rest due to a light muscle strain during the friendly match lost to Munster two weeks ago.

Given the forced unavailability of some athletes, two permit players part of the Italian side roster of Rugby Calvisano will be part of the 23 list of players announced: the young former U20 academy Pettinelli – three appearances in the pre-season friendlies for the 20 years old flanker – and scrum half Semenzato – 4 appearances during last Guinness PRO12 season during the 2015 World Cup window.

Zebre line-up

15 Kurt Baker
14 Lloyd Greeff
13 Giulio Bisegni
12 Tommaso Castello
11 Gabriele Di Giulio*
10 Edoardo Padovani*
9 Guglielmo Palazzani
8 Andries Van Schalkwyk
7 Maxime Mbandà*
6 Jacopo Sarto
5 George Biagi (cap)
4 Federico Ruzza*
3 Pietro Ceccarelli
2 Tommaso D’Apice*
1 Andrea Lovotti*

Replacements :
16 Carlo Festuccia
17 Andrea De Marchi
18 Dario Chistolini
19 Valerio Bernabò
20 Giovanni Pettinelli*
21 Fabio Semenzato
22 Carlo Canna
23 Tommaso Boni

Coach. Gianluca Guidi

*Former member of the Italian Rugby Union academy “Ivan Francescato” of Tirrenia.

Not available for selection due to injury: Mattia Bellini, Dion Berryman, Oliviero Fabiani, Joshua Furno*, Andrea Manici*, Johan Meyer, Matteo Panunzi*, Bruno Postiglioni, Kayle Van Zyl, Giovanbattista Venditti*, Marcello Violi*

Not available: Quintin Geldenhuys, Carlo Engelbrecht, Gideon Koegelenberg, Derick Minnie,

Referee: Andrew Brace (Irish Rugby Football Union)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Irish Rugby Football Union) and Gareth Newman (Welsh Rugby Union)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Irish Rugby Football Union)

Live tv coverage in Wales on BBC Wales. Live text coverage of the game on www.pro12rugby.com and on Zebre Rugby twitter account with the official game hashtag #OSPvZEB