Both the national team and Zebre travel to Ireland this weekend facing a double header against Ireland and Munster on the same day.
In fact tomorrow at 2.15 there will be 8 Zebre players selected by Conor O’Shea for the Azzurri 23 list for the game at the Aviva Stadium, while Zebre will play later in the evening at Thomond Park in Limerick against Munster.
It will be the 12th official game between the two sides, both included in the A conference of the Guinness PRO14 with Munster second in the table with 8 wins in the first 13 rounds and Zebre at the bottom with 3 wins, 2 obtained in Parma and one in Port Elizabeth against the South African side Southern Kings.
Zebre Rugby have never beaten Munster, gaining only two defensive bonus points at Stadio Lanfranchi in the 6 games played in Italy.
It will be the first time for Michael Bradley in Ireland against his former team: the 40-cap Irish international scrum-half between 1984 and 1995 played for Munster and for his club, the Cork Constitution.
For this encounter, Zebre could count on three Italian internationals who were released by the coaching staff, all of them are included in the starting line-up.
Centre Bisegni was not included in the Italy 23 against England, while lock Biagi and flanker Giammarioli faced the Six Nations reigning champions at Stadio Olimpico in the 15-46 defeat.
There will be other experienced players in the Zebre starting line-up: winger Venditti (43 caps with Italy), hooker D’Apice 13 caps with Italy) and Palazzani with 22 internationals caps. The scrum-half born in Gardone Val Trompia near Brescia will earn his 100th cap with Zebre becoming the second overall player to reach this milestone, since the foundation of the Guinness PRO14 franchise back in 2012.
Prop De Marchi leads this special chart at 106 while another prop Chistolini trails Palazzani at 97.
There will be a permit player who will gain his overall debut in the Guinness PRO14; the New Zealander number 8 Tuivaiti who normally plays in the Italian Eccellenza with Rugby Calvisano. The former North Harbour player in the New Zealand Mitre10 national league landed in Italy back in the 2015 summer and won the Italian league last May.
Here’s the Zebre Rugby Club line-up for Saturday, February 10 match at Thomond Park Stadium in Limerick (Ireland) for the 14th round of the Guinness PRO14 against the Irish side of Munster. Kick off at 7.35 pm local time:
15 Ciaran Gaffney
14 Gabriele Di Giulio*
13 Giulio Bisegni
12 Faialaga Afamasaga
11 Giovanbattista Venditti*
10 Serafin Bordoli
9 Guglielmo Palazzani
8 Jimmy Tuivaiti
7 Johan Meyer
6 Renato Giammarioli*
5 George Biagi (cap)
4 David Sisi
3 Eduardo Bello
2 Tommaso D’Apice*
1 Cruze Ah-Nau
16 Luhandre Luus*
17 Andrea De Marchi
18 Roberto Tenga
19 Leonard Krumow
20 Derick Minnie
21 Riccardo Raffaele*
22 Maicol Azzolini*
23 Rory Parata
Coach. Michael Bradley
Not available for selection due to injury: Andrea Manici*, Edoardo Padovani*, Sami Panico, James Tucker
Players capped by Italy for the Six Nations game in Ireland: Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Boni*, Carlo Canna, Tommaso Castello, Oliviero Fabiani, Andrea Lovotti*, Maxime Mbandà*, Matteo Minozzi*, Marcello Violi*
*Former member of the Italian Rugby Union academy “Ivan Francescato” of Parma
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Welsh Rugby Union)
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans (Welsh Rugby Union) e Jonny Erskine (Irish Rugby Football Union)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Welsh Rugby Union)
Live streaming coverage in Italy on Eurosport Player. Live text coverage of the game on www.pro14rugby.org and on Zebre Rugby twitter account with the official game hashtag #MUNvZEB