Italian franchise Zebre may have just two wins from a dozen outings in this season’s Guinness PRO14, but the solidity of their pack has resulted in a dozen of their forwards signing contract extensions to stay in Parma.
Tournament statistics have Michael Bradley’s side placed first in terms of scrum won (98 per cent with 80 wins out of 82 engagements and seven scrum penalties won) and in second place in terms of lineout success (89 per cent with 141 lineouts won, 18 lineouts lost and six lineout steals).
That set-piece certainty has helped convince Bradley to stay loyal to a dozen of his options – three back row players Giovanni Licata, David Sisi and Jimmy Tuivaiti, five props Eduardo Bello, Andrea Lovotti, Danilo Fischetti, Daniele Rimpelli and Giosue Zilocchi, two hookers Massimo Ceciliani and Marco Manfredi and two locks Leonard Krumov and Samuele Ortis.
“These twelve players will be part of the Zebre scrum in the next few years,’ explained team manager Andrea de Rossi. “There are players who are already part of the national team and young people who we hope will join them in the coming months.
“We’ve believed in them, just as they immediately had faith in the club’s project. These renewals are the result of planning and awareness of what has been done in the past, what is being done and what we can continue to do in the future.
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“It’s a fact that the scrum and the lineout have improved this year and this has allowed us to perform much better than in past seasons, so it’s right and natural to confirm, renew and for some to extend their contracts with Zebre.”
With the exception of Fischetti and Manfredi (who have renewed until June 2023), Bello, Lovotti, Licata, Rimpelli and Zilocchi have signed until June 2022, and Sisi, Ceciliani, Krumov, Ortis and Tuivati have extended their contract until the end of next season (June 2021), the latter four with the possibility to extend it for another year.
Despite the ongoing wait for better match results in the PRO14, the success of the project undertaken at Zebre is also evident in the debut of five of these dozen forwards with the Italian national team.
While Lovotti has increased his game time with Italy, Fischetti, Giovanni Licata, Sisi, Tuivaiti and Zilocchi have earned their first cap with the Azzurri between 2017 and 2020.
WATCH: RugbyPass goes behind the scenes at Zebre
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