Zebre will open 2019 against the Toyota Cheetahs at the Lanfranchi Stadium on Sunday 6 January at 2 pm.
In the 13th round of the Guinness PRO14, the bianconeri will host the Cheetahs, also included in the A Conference, for the second time in their history.
The two teams – separated by only one point in the standings – will meet both times in January, with the Italians awaiting their only seasonal trip to South Africa on January 26 at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein.
Zebre come to the challenge with many motivations after the two defeats against Benetton in the Christmas derbies: the XV of coach Bradley, in fact, wants to find the success that is missing in the Guinness PRO14 from the match against Edinburgh in late October.
In the two previous meetings, there were 145 points and 17 goals scored with the South Africans kicking a penalty in the last minute of play to make the final score 23-24 in favour of the travelling team.
The toyota Cheetahs arrived in Parma several days ago to acclimatize with the temperatures of the winter of the river Po valley, very different from the 30 degrees of the summer of the Free State of the Rainbow Nation.
At the Cheetahs technical guide, there is an old friend of the Italian rugby: Franco Smith, former fly-half and former coach of Benetton Rugby from 2007 to 2013.
He has already challenged Zebre two times while leading Benetton Rugby.
It will be the fifth official challenge between Zebre and a South African club with an equal account: in fact, there were two wins against the Southern Kings, the last one in Parma on August 31st in the first round of the competition.
Zebre coaching staff has opted for 7 changes compared to the starting line-up on December, 29 in Treviso: two in the backs, where the Italian-Argentine De Battista will be the inside centre, while Palazzani will earn his 120th cap.
In the pack, only Lovotti, Mbandà and Sisi are retained, the lock will captain the XV for the third time.
Back rower Licata is back from his injury, while teammate Bianchi, a permit player registered with Fiamme Oro Rugby, will be on the bench ready for his fourth cap in the Guinness PRO14.
Here’s Zebre Rugby Club line-up for Sunday, January 6 match at the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma (Italy) for the 13rd round of the Guinness PRO14 against the South African side Toyota Cheetahs. Kick-off at 2 pm local time:
15 Edoardo Padovani*
14 Paula Balekana
13 Giulio Bisegni
12 Nicolas De Battista
11 James Elliott
10 Carlo Canna
9 Guglielmo Palazzani
8 Jimmy Tuivaiti
7 Giovanni Licata*
6 Maxime Mbandà*
5 Samuele Ortis*
4 David Sisi (cap)
3 Eduardo Bello
2 Massimo Ceciliani*
1 Andrea Lovotti*
16 Luhandre Luus*
17 Daniele Rimpelli*
18 Giosué Zilocchi*
19 George Biagi
20 Iacopo Bianchi* (permit player from Fiamme Oro Rugby)
21 Joshua Renton
22 Francois Brummer
23 Tommaso Boni*
Head Coach: Michael Bradley
Not available for selection due to injury: Mattia Bellini, Oliviero Fabiani, Renato Giammarioli*, Johan Meyer, Matteo Minozzi*, Roberto Tenga e Marcello Violi*
*Former member of the Italian Rugby Union National Academy “Ivan Francescato”
Referee: Dan Jones (Welsh Rugby Union)
Assistant Referees: Aled Evans (Welsh Rugby Union) e Gianluca Gnecchi (Federazione Italiana Rugby)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Federazione Italiana Rugby)
Live coverage of the game in Italy on live streaming on DAZN on www.dazn.com. Live text coverage of the game on www.pro14rugby.org and on Zebre Rugby twitter account with the official game hashtag #ZEBvCHE