Aironi second row Marco Bortolami believes the return of the best Azzurri players to Italy’s RaboDirect PRO12 teams will have a positive effect both domestically and on the international scene.
Bortolami returned to his homeland last season after four years with Gloucester and with other big names, including Six Nations Player of the Tournament Andrea Masi also back, the 31-year-old has predicted an improvement from the Italian sides.
He said: “It’s a good thing that the best Italian players are returning to Italy. This is vital to develop the youngsters, to make the franchises more competitive and given that we play more often together, it can make the national team a lot more used to playing together.
“At Aironi last year we took several months to understand what level was needed to be competitive. But now we can go and get the results we missed out on last year.”
Meanwhile Aironi president Daniele Silvano Melegari admits his team over-estimated their ambitions last year – picking up a solitary victory over Connacht.
He said: “Last year we were a bit presumptuous to say we wanted to win three to four games.
“Our objective this year therefore is to play for 80 minutes, to be in the game until the end and to put all our competitors under pressure.”