31/10/2019 – Guinness PRO14 Communications – Zebre make nine changes for Ulster clash

After coming close to victory last Saturday at the Lanfranchi Stadium against the reigning champions Leinster, Zebre are ready to face the Ulstermen, who have three wins from the first four rounds of the championship.

The match is scheduled on Friday 1st November at 7:35 (local time) and it will broadcast in Ireland on Eir Sports and in the UK on Premier Sports.

In view of the trip to Belfast, Zebre will restart from the attitude shown last Saturday, hoping to obtain that overdue win that in the tournament has been missing for just over a year.

With victory over Cardiff Blues, Ulster squad strengthened their third position in the Conference A, reaching 15 points.

Zebre, for their part, have collected only 2 points in the first part of the season and currently occupy the bottom of the same conference.

The two teams will therefore meet again this year; the return match is set on 16 May 2020 in Italy.

Overall, twelve official matches have been played so far between Zebre and Ulster, with the Italian side victorious twice, both in Parma, on 27 September 2014 (13-6) and on the 30 September 2017 (27-23).

The last encounter dates back to February 23 and was a home victory for Ulster (54-7) who were unbeaten in Belfast from 5 October 2018.

Today the coaching staff lead by Michael Bradley announced the squad chosen for the trip to Belfast.

Compared to the line-up selected in the 4th round, there will be nine changes in the starting XV, four in the scrum and five in the back line.

Samoan full back Junior Laloifi arrived in Parma in the second week of October following the conclusion of the Mitre 10 Cup with the Manawatu Turbos. He will start from the beginning alongside the two wingers Mattia Bellini and Charlie Walker.

James Elliott and Tommaso Boni will pair in the centres, while the half backs will be Azzurri duo Carlo Canna and Marcello Violi. The scrum half is fully recovered from his injury and is set for his first seasonal start.

In the pack, we will see Irish lock Ian Nagle and the three Italian Internationals Oliviero Fabiani, Renato Giammarioli and Maxime Mbandà all get the starting berth.

There are two more Azzurri, returning from the Rugby World Cup, who will start on the bench. They are scrum half Guglielmo Palazzani and hooker Luca Bigi.

Tomorrow’s fixture will be the first seasonal start for Palazzani and the first ever call-up for Bigi.

Zebre Rugby Club

15 Junior Laloifi (0)
14 Charlie Walker (3)
13 James Elliott (22)
12 Tommaso Boni* (75)
11 Mattia Bellini (49)
10 Carlo Canna (80)
9 Marcello Violi* (55)

8 Renato Giammarioli* (33)
7 Giovanni Licata* (27)
6 Maxime Mbandà* (41)
5 George Biagi (110) (Cap)
4 Ian Nagle (2)
3 Giosuè Zilocchi* (19)
2 Oliviero Fabiani (108)
1 Danilo Fischetti* (7)

Replacements:

16 Luca Bigi (0)
17 Daniele Rimpelli* (31)
18 Eduardo Bello (31)
19 Leonard Krumov* (34)
20 Apisai Tauyavuca (25)
21 Guglielmo Palazzani (127)
22 Enrico Lucchin* (4)
23 Joshua Renton (20)

Head Coach Michael Bradley Not available for selection due to injury: Michelangelo Biondelli*, Francois Brummer, Tommaso Castello, Massimo Ceciliani*, Gabriele Di Giulio*, Edoardo Padovani*, Jimmy Tuivaiti

Ruled out: Andrea Lovotti* *Former member of the Italian Rugby Union academy "Ivan Francescato" Referee: Sam Grove-White (Scottish Rugby Union)

Assistant referee: Frank Murphy (Irish Rugby Football Union) and Hollie Davidson (Scottish Rugby Union)

TMO: Neil Patterson (Scottish Rugby Union)