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Guinness Pro 14 Preview: Benetton Treviso

Following a very difficult 2015-16 season, Benetton Treviso made good strides last season. Their improvement was enough to earn a 10th place spot in the standings. This may not be the greatest of accomplishments, but with the history of the Italian teams in the competition,  it is good for them to finish ahead of just each other.

In the history of the Italian clubs in the Pro 14, Benetton Treviso has always been the more dominant force. Although their last season was not their best finish, it is their best performance since 2013.

Squad

Treviso has worked hard in their off-season to bring in new talent from around the world. Two new signees were brought in from New Zealand Super Rugby teams, as well as three others from fellow Pro 14 teams. The team is once again littered with Italian internationals, as well as many new up and coming U20 stars.

Marty Banks- Highlanders

Marty Banks has spent four years playing for Super Rugby teams Highlanders and Hurricanes. In those years, he had 35 caps for both clubs and scored 163 points. Due to how thin the team is at fly half (most caps held by Ian McKinley, at 28 caps), he could immediately become relevant in the position.

Whetu Douglas- Crusaders

Benetton Treviso is set to bring in some international fire power with Whetu Douglas. Douglas spent four years with the ITM cup Waikato team and had 36 caps with 8 tries during his time. He spent one season with the Crusaders and only made three appearances, but made his appearance last fall for the Maori All Blacks. Treviso is limited at their flankers, so Douglas could come in and make an immediate impact.

Irne Herbst- Southern Kings

Lock Irne Herbst did not gain a ton of time with Southern Kings but has been an impressive force for Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup. The lock, especially number 4, is very light for Treviso, so it is very likely he will make an immediate impact for the team.

Expected Starting XV

  1. Alberto De Marchi- 41 caps. With only 41 caps with Treviso, De Marchi is the most experienced front row player for Benetton Treviso.
  2. Luca Bigi- 37 caps.
  3. Simone Ferrari- 37 caps.
  4. Fuser Marco- 87 caps, It is likely that once Irne Herbst finishes his contract with the Blue Bulls he will compete very hard for this shirt. If Marco can hold on to it, Herbst will be his number one backup.
  5. Dean Budd- 89 caps. New Zealander and captain for the upcoming season, Dean Budd had an impressive 21 starts last season. He also earned his first international caps during their summer internationals.
  6. Marco Lazzaroni- 55 caps.
  7. Francesco Minto- 99 caps. Although likely to play six as well, any match Lazzaroni starts at 6 Minto will at seven.
  8. Robert Barbieri- 122 caps. The most experienced player in the forward pack has been a hard stay at the no. 8 position for years.
  9. Tito Tebaldi- 23 caps. Having only been around for one season, the former Harlequin managed 15 starts last season. With no new signings at scrum half, his spot should be safe.
  10. Ian McKinley/Marty Banks- 28caps/0 caps. The experience at fly half is minimal for Treviso, so a player with Marty Banks’ experience will likely come in and start immediately. If any one can keep him off though, it will be Ian McKinley.
  11. Luca Spenadio- 18 caps. Although young at 21, and only playing one year with Treviso, he started 17 of those matches. He also was brought on and earned his first caps for Italy in the Six Nations tournament.
  12. Alberto Sgarbi- 159 caps
  13. Tommaso Benvenuti- 56 caps.
  14. Angelo Esposito- 59 caps.
  15. Jayden Hayward- 58 caps.

Coaching

Kiwi Kieran Crowley, in his second year as head coach of Benetton Treviso, is looking to build on the success of his first season. Last season saw a two-match improvement over the 2015-16 season.

It may not seem like a huge difference between 3 and 5 wins, but it meant two more against non-Italian teams. This included an impressive performance against Ospreys, shocking the quarterfinal team. The Ospreys were held to only one try and no other points in the match. Two weeks later, Treviso was able to hold Edinburgh to zero tries and two penalties. They also managed to force the Edinburgh scrum, featuring a British and Irish Lion on the front row, to concede a penalty try in the match in a 21-6 win.

Crowley will be hoping to continue their improvement with the expanded set up and solid signees added in the off-season.

Schedule

The upcoming season starts off very hard for Treviso with a trip to Munster. Overall Treviso has a decent schedule. They have home matches against Cheetahs and Connacht. Ospreys will be traveling to Italy looking for revenge for the embarrassing loss of last season. Treviso has two matches against Edinburgh and Dragons, which it is possible they may split those series. An increased number of matches against a devastated Zebre will also help give Benetton Treviso an opportunity to show improvement.

Outlook

For Benetton Treviso, the outlook is very good. There were not many losses of note following last season and some very good players brought in. Kieran Crowley has already done well to improve the team and they have a favorable schedule. No one is expecting Treviso to make the playoffs, but for an Italian team, expect them to do well this upcoming season. The future looks bright. It’s even possible they could make as high as 10th this upcoming season.

 

 

Pro 14 Previews:

Connacht

Cardiff Blues

Zebre

Ulster

Edinburgh

Dragons

Cheetahs

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David Bradham

Active duty Navy, have a true passion for Rugby.
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