Giovanbattista Venditti, our next RaboDirect PRO12 rising star, has arguably made a bigger leap than any of his contemporaries going from Aironi reserve to full international in the space of 12 months.
And Venditti has not looked out of place on the international circuit, starting against France before touching down on his home debut against England at the Stadio Olimpico.
Here we find out a bit more about Italy’s giant wing – what his wife thinks his worst trait is, who he’d avoid down a dark alley and what he eats in industrial quantities.
Jonah Lomu was my first rugby hero as he probably was for all of my generation growing up. When I started playing he was the best and he’s always been that for me. After him maybe Christian Cullen.
Carlo Fazzari, who now plays at Treviso, has been my best ever roommate. We lived together when we played for Gran Parma and before that in the academy. We get on pretty well despite him being a prop and me being a winger.
I have a pair of lycra under-shorts which I use for every game, so that is my favourite piece of rugby kit. I’ve had them for nearly six years but they’re still good to wear and have become my lucky charm.
If I could have a theme tune to walk out onto the pitch it would Umbrella – but not the Rihanna version. It would instead be by a band called the The Baseballs, who are a group of three German guys, who do famous songs in their own style.
Sebastien Chabal would be the rugby player I would most want to avoid down a dark alley – he looks like he would be rather evil, don’t you think? Unfortunately now is a not particularly good time for him, poor guy.
On my day off I try to spend a day off with the family – my wife Alice and my son, Leonardo, who’s only one. Nothing too strenuous, just strolling through the park and playing around.
My worst traits are reading and having a bath. My wife always complains about me doing too much of both.
My best friend in rugby is Tito Tebaldi, but I think we get on because we’re very different. We’ve played together for two years at Aironi and before that at Gran Parma. He dresses himself very precisely and smartly and that doesn’t interest me much. Perhaps it’s the rule of opposites. If you asked him what he would say about me he would probably say I need to change my jacket because how I’m dressed is a bit strange or he would invite me to eat Japanese food.
The best thing about being a winger is that if the team plays well there’s space to run. That’s the best part for me – the fast game. I like to try and invent something out of nothing.
I have quite a balanced diet actually but I do have a secret vice. Ever since I was a baby I eat a lot of Parmesan cheese – industrial quantities!
I have so many nicknames I have lost count. Giamba, Giomba, John, Joe, Johnson. My father always called me Johnson as a baby but Giovanbattista is the name of my grandfather, and I’m very proud to carry his name.
My earliest rugby memory is playing for Trofeo Topolino at Treviso in the Under-10s side. I remember almost all of it, all the tries, everything I did. Between games we would sit in the stands and drink hot chocolate and eat sweets. No-one I played with then is still playing with me now but we’re all still friends.