Zebre hoping Leinster will be rusty after three-week gap

Michael Bradley including four Azzurri in squad while Leinster bring in young blood

Zebre head coach Michael Bradley: Italian centre Giulio Bisegni, outhalf Carlo Canna and  two back rowers, Maxime Mbandà and Jimmy Tuivaiti, will start against the league leaders.  Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho

Zebre head coach Michael Bradley: Italian centre Giulio Bisegni, outhalf Carlo Canna and two back rowers, Maxime Mbandà and Jimmy Tuivaiti, will start against the league leaders. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Inpho

 

Zebre v Leinster

Zaffanella Stadium 2.30pm

Zebre head coach and former Irish scrumhalf Michael Bradley has included four Azzurri in his team to face Leinster in Italy. Italian centre Giulio Bisegni, outhalf Carlo Canna and the two back rowers, Maxime Mbandà and Jimmy Tuivaiti, will start against the league leaders. As the teams are in different conferences, it will probably be their only meeting.

Bradley may feel a slight glimmer of hope in that Leinster have not played a competitive match for three weeks, the last time out earning a narrow 22-17 win over Scarlets on January 25th.

Dave Kearney at fullback this week continues to try to move his form forward after an injury-free run as well as two European Cup matches against Toulouse and Wasps. This week’s wingers are Adam Byrne on the right and Barry Daly, both providing gas out wide.

All-international

Coach Leo Cullen also has an all-international frontrow, with Jack McGrath hoping to impress as well as James Tracy and Andrew Porter, who has had a couple of run-outs for Ireland in their opening Six Nations matches.

As ever with Leinster, young players are popping up everywhere, the trio of Caelan Doris, Max Deegan and Josh Murphy packing just as much young talent as you can get into a backrow. Murphy is 23 years old, Deegan 22 and number eight Doris 20. Captain Scott Fardy in the secondrow could almost hold the threat of detention over that bunch.

Leinster are enjoying an almost isolated position at the top of the table in Conference B, with clear blue water between them and their nearest rivals. A full 21 points separates them from Treviso, who have 37 points to Leinster’s 58. In Conference A, Bradley’s club Zebre are labouring at the bottom of the table on 17 points.

Having been an unused replacement in the win against Scarlets, Academy forward Jack Dunne is another player to come through the Leinster system via St Michael’s College. Currently on a rugby scholarship in Trinity, the lock – when not lining out with Leinster – is studying theoretical physics.

ZEBRE: F Brummer; G Di Giulio, G Bisegni, T Boni, J Elliott; C Canna, J Renton; D Rimpelli, O Fabiani, G Zilocchi, S Ortis, G Biagi (capt), M Mbandà, J Tuivaiti, G Licata. Replacements: L Luus, D Fischetti, D Christolini, A Tauyavuca, J Brown, R Raffaele, P Balekana, N De Battista

LEINSTER: D Kearney; A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, C O’Brien, B Daly; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; J McGrath, J Tracy, A Porter; R Molony, S Fardy (capt); J Murphy, M Deegan, C Doris. Replacements:  B Byrne, P Dooley, M Bent, M Kearney, J Dunne, H O’Sullivan, N Reid, J O’Brien.

Referee: I Davies (WRU)

Verdict: Leinster win

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.