Guinness PRO12: Zebre host Cardiff Blues in Parma in Sunday's lone clash
Last Updated: 07/09/14 7:53am
You can now see Guinness PRO12 matches live on Sky Sports
Cardiff Blues get their new Guinness PRO12 campaign underway with a trip to Italy to face Zebre at the Stade XXV Aprile on Sunday afternoon.
Italian sides have proven a thorn in the side for Cardiff of late and they will be desperate to start their season on a winning note, especially given Zebre’s record against the Blues last term.
Zebre beat the Blues at Cardiff Arms Parks in Round 3 last year before going on to complete the double over Cardiff, who won just one of their four fixtures against Italian opposition last term.
"Although last year we beat them twice, have made major recruitments and have got a new quality coach: they definitely want to excel in this league again."
The form guide offers little hope to Cardiff, who start the new term under the shrewd tutelage of former Super Rugby coach Mark Hammett, with Zebre unbeaten in their last four Parma outings.
Former Cheetahs full-back Hendrik Daniller takes the No 15 jersey on his Zebre debut following his summer arrival, while there is also a debut for Mirco Bergamasco at centre.
Italian lock Quintin Geldenhuys leads the side from the second row, with nine other Azzuri internationals in the matchday squad.
Despite heading into the new term unbeaten in four on home soil , Zebre head coach Andrea Cavinato is wary of the threat posed by the Blues.
“Sunday we must face this game with the maximum concentration and humility because we know that Cardiff,” he said.
“Although last year we beat them twice, have made major recruitments and have got a new quality coach: they definitely want to excel in this league again.”
Cardiff’s three summer signings all start as the Blues look to make a winning start to the campaign.
Following his arrival from Ospreys, Wales and British Lion Adam Jones packs down alongside captain Matthew Rees and Sam Hobbs in the front row.
Josh Turnbull will play at blindside flanker and is part of a powerful back row that includes fellow new boy and Italian international Manoa Vosawai as well as Wales captain Sam Warburton.
Rhys Patchell and Lloyd Williams are paired at half back after impressing together in the final pre-season fixture with Leicester Tigers.
Gavin Evans and Cory Allen will form a midfield partnership while rising star Owen Jenkins is named on the wing for the third PRO12 start of his career. His first start also came in Italy against Benetton Treviso last season.
Director of rugby Mark Hammett said: "We're looking forward to the first game of the new Guinness PRO12 season against a Zebre team who will no doubt be keen to make a positive start on home soil.
"We need to focus on ourselves and performing; we have real competition for places right across the squad. Every player knows they need to produce in Italy to keep hold of the jersey.”
Zebre: 15 Hendrik Daniller, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Mirco Bergamasco, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard; 1 Matias Aguero, 2 Andrea Manici, 3 Dario Chistolini, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (capt), 5 George Biagi, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 7 Andries van Schlkwyk, 8 Samuela Vunisa
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Luciano Leibson, 19 Andries Ferreira, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Kelly Haimona, 23 Edoardo Padovani
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Owen Jenkins, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams; 1 Sam Hobbs, 2 Matthew Rees (capt), 3 Adam Jones, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 5 Filo Paulo, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Sam Warburton, 8 Manoa Vosawai
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dafydd Hewitt
Guiness PRO12 2014/15, Round One
Cardiff Blues made a winning start to their 2014-15 Guinness Pro12 season as they beat Zebre 41-26 in Parma on Sunday.
Connacht opened the new Guinness Pro12 campaign with an encouraging 16-11 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons.