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Historic cult heroes: Glasgow Warriors, Edinburgh, Benetton Treviso, and Zebre

With the new-look Guinness PRO14 soon to return, we are taking a look back at some of the great names of the past.

Here we examine the cult heroes from the Scottish and Italian sides that have provided us with countless memories over the years.

And where better to start than with an Olympic gold medallist who made his mark north of the border with Glasgow Warriors.

Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa was only at Glasgow Warriors for three years between 2013 and 2016, but in that time the second row made a sizeable impact.

Adept in the engine room alongside the likes of Jonny Gray and Al Kellock, Nakarawa never shirked his fair share of the dirty work required by the front five.

But it was with ball in hand that the Fijian firecracker really made his presence felt, one of the finest offloaders the game has ever seen – certainly as a forward.

Nakarawa quickly became a fan favourite at Scotstoun with his eye-catching showings as the Warriors made the Guinness PRO12 final for the first time in their history at the end of his first season.

They went down to defeat to Leinster but a year later it was a different story as Gregor Townsend’s side secured their maiden title by downing Munster.

And it was Nakarawa who made the headlines, his ridiculous offloading and strength in the tackle causing carnange in a comfortable win and earning the Fijian the man-of-the-match award.

A year later and Nakarawa was showcasing those skills on the world stage in leading Fiji’s 7s side to top spot at Rio 2016 – the country’s first ever gold medal at an Olympics.

And while he then left for Racing 92, his legacy as a Glasgow legend has been secured for life.

Glasgow’s cross-country rivals Edinburgh Rugby have had their fair share of heroes at the club as well, but few epitomise the capital spirit like Allan Jacobsen.

The man known as ‘Chunk’ was a one-club man for the entirety of his 14-year career.

In that time he won 65 caps for Scotland and played a key role in three World Cups, but in Edinburgh it his efforts for his hometown club that earned him the most praise.

The club launched a unique club trophy in the shape of the retiring prop’s ear – the annual award is presented to the player voted ‘most dedicated’ by fans.

Jacobsen hung up his boots in 2013 as their longest-serving player and record appearance holder.

In his time there the Edinburgh club finished second in the league back in 2009 and made the European Cup semi-finals in 2012.

Zebre have only been members of the league since 2012 when they replaced Aironi, but in that time have already developed some real fan favourites.

Italian legends like Marco Bortolami have come in and made a real impact while they still speak fondly about Sinoti Sinoti’s devastasting season on the wing in Italy.

But for cult hero it is hard to look past the great Mauro Bergamasco, the Italian flanker who spent a lot of his career in France with Stade Francais.

But the Italian – who won 106 caps for the Azzurri – returned to his homeland for the end of his career and was a huge asset as Zebre established themselves in the new league.

Versatility was one of Bergamasco’s calling cards on the international scene – he played all across the back row, on the wing and even at scrum-half for Italy – but with the club he was always at flanker as they made their name in the league.

He scored a try and was pivotal in their first win since the club was formed, a 30-25 victory over Cardiff Blues in Wales that put them on the map.

Across Italy and Benetton Treviso have been very fortunate to have had some of the biggest names in world rugby line up for them.

In the PRO12 era the likes of Brendon Leonard and Luke Burgess have graced the green and white jersey, but go back a little further and you get some of the greats of the game.

Michael Lynagh was one to shine but the four years Sir John Kirwan spent on the wing in Italy make him the club’s most famous former face.

Fluent in Italian, Treviso was where he met his wife Fiorella, while on the pitch the All Blacks flyer terrorised defences.

The World Cup winner regularly lined up for the club during the New Zealand off season – and this was when the winger was at the peak of his powers.

Between 1985 and 1989 the people of Treviso were treated to some world-class showings from one of the game’s greats.