Guinness PRO14 strugglers Zebre have confirmed the eight players who won’t be returning as part of their squad for next month’s resumption of the suspended 2019/20 season.

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The Italian minnows won just two of their 13 league games before the season was halted last March. It is set to recommence with a series of derby matches that in Italy will see Zebre take on their local rivals Benetton.

They will do so minus eight of the players who were on their roster in the spring – Fijian winger Paula Balekana, Italian lock George Biagi, South African out-half Francois Brummer, Italian full-back Edoardo Padovani, Fijian lock Apisai Tauyavuca, Italian prop Roberto Tenga, Italian winger Giovanbattista Venditti and English winger Charlie Walker.

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RugbyPass brings you This Is Zebre, the behind the scenes documentary on the Guinness PRO14 club based in Parma

Biagi has taken up an operations management position at the club, Padovani has joined Benetton while Walker has moved to Ealing Trailfinders.

Zebre team manager Andrea de Rossi said: “I would like to thank these players, protagonists of historical and indelible results for our club, such as the first victory in England, the one in South Africa, the one in Newport, the one in Paris and also the last record-breaking success against the Cheetahs in Parma in January. 

“Due to the coronavirus emergency, it’s a shame we didn’t say goodbye to them properly on the pitch in front of the fans. A special thanks goes to George Biagi, centurion and leader as captain of Zebre. He has been an example on and off the pitch for many young people who have grown up in our club over the past seven years.”

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Speaking about their 2019/20 PRO14 season, Zebre boss Michael Bradley told RugbyPass last December: “We are not happy with the results to date but the direction the team is going in, we have got a much better team this year. People from the teams that we have played recognise that as well and have set their teams up accordingly. 

“For the first time we have the ability to rest and rotate players which puts us on the same level as most of the other sides, so we will stick with the brand of rugby we are trying to play which is keeping the ball alive, keeping it up off the ground, keeping it fast.

“We will make mistakes but if we keep practising and keep our focus on this area, we will get better and better and we will start knocking over some decent teams and getting to the play-off side of things.” 

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