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Italian Spotlight: Mattia Bellini

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor

16 Feb 2017

Born and bred in Padova, Mattia Bellini soon became one of the most exciting young backs to wear the prestigious Petrarca shirt as a teenager. He made his name through the age grade and played his first Eccellenza match in 2012 in Padova, in front of more than 4,000 people, scoring a try against rival Rovigo just one minute after his introduction as a substitute.

A former Italy Under 20, Sevens and Emerging Italy pupil, he first landed at Zebre in 2015 as a permit player only to sign his first professional contract for the Guinness PRO12 side last summer, ahead of the 2016/2017 season.

Standing at 6ft 3in and weighing 90 kgs, Mattia can play full-back and outside centre but it is as a winger that he got the surprise call into the Azzurri group two years ago. His speed, agility and ability to beat the defender, along with a good defensive attitude, brought him on to the radar of former Italy coach Jacques Brunel’s and in November 2015 he was called to join the National Team set-up straight from the Eccellenza for a training session in Treviso.

Bellini’s Test debut came on February 6, 2016 on the left wing when Italy narrowly lost out to France at the Stade de France in the Six Nations and that performance was good enough to cement the Zebre flyer as a starter for the rest of the Six Nations.

To date Mattia has five international caps, played eight Guniness PRO12 games (only two from the bench) scoring a try and appearing in four Champions Cup matches, crossing against Toulouse and Connacht. It is this promising form that has seen him emerge as one of the staple members of Zebre squad since last year.

As a young and versatile power winger, Bellini is actually in the wider group of Azzurri that Conor O’Shea is closely monitoring and will be aiming to establish himself as a key player in the long run to the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Guinness PRO12 Final takes place at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on May 27, 2017. Tickets for the Guinness PRO12 Final are available via ticketmaster.ie with a limited number of great value €35 tickets still remaining. Or get in at the top level with Premium, starting at only €70. www.pro12rugby.com/final