Tommaso Benvenuti, the latest of our RaboDirect PRO12 rising stars, is a 21-year-old Treviso outside centre who, with 17 caps for Italy, is already at home on the international stage.
The first of an exciting crop of young Italian backs, Benvenuti featured in all five of Italy’s Six Nations games this year while he has also made eight appearances in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Treviso have made strides forward this season and currently lie ninth in the league – one place up on their final position last year.
And, as we found out, Benvenuti puts their upward curve down to a strong team spirit, one which the national side have started to develop also.
The best thing about rugby is the group mentality you get within a squad. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed the most. We have a great one at Treviso and we’re beginning to establish one with Italy.
I don’t have any particular pre-game rituals. I listen to a bit of music while I change and I might read the match programme if it’s around – that’s all I need.
I don’t have a gym buddy at Treviso because we do it in groups which are always alternating. In the summer I always try and rest but if I have to go to the gym I will go with an old school friend.
My first signature was from Mauro Bergamasco when I was 10 years old. I was with my Dad in a sports shop in Padua and I found him there buying some clothes.
My car is the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. It’s a Golf Cabriolet and it goes very fast!
It’s a dangerous thing to have a sporting motto, so I don’t have one. I don’t think many players I know do.
The aspect of rugby I would like to change the most is the number of people who play the sport in Italy with respect to how many play football. Or to put it another way, I would like to save more people from football!
I eat so many things I shouldn’t eat. But the best are the desserts my grandmother makes – they are not for people on a diet. They’re basically fried or made of butter.
The first time I picked up a rugby ball will have been in my family home because I remember I was always playing with a little ball as a boy. My father Carlo must have bought it for me because he was a rugby player for a team called Mogliano, near where I live. He was a second row but he didn’t play for Italy. I think he would have liked me to be a second row as well, maybe I’ve let him down!
Richie McCaw is my rugby hero. It’s because every game he plays, he plays it as if it’s his last and he gives everything he’s got.