Zebre head coach Andrea Cavinato has warned his players to beware of what he believes is a dangerous Treviso side when the two Italian teams in the RaboDirect PRO12 collide on Saturday.
Zebre currently sit bottom of the RaboDirect PRO12 table, despite a first ever victory earlier this season, but Treviso have not fared much better and Cavinato’s side can leapfrog their rivals with back-to-back victories over the New Year period.
First Zebre travel to Treviso having claimed their third bonus point of the season last time out in a 13-6 defeat at Ulster and will be looking to avenge a double defeat at the hands of their Italian counterparts last term.
Treviso have not won since beating Connacht 23-3 at Stadio Monigo in round 5 of the RaboDirect PRO12 and following a difficult start to the season, Franco Smith brought forward his departure date after a slow start, to be replaced by former assistant Marius Goosen.
And Cavinato told Il Gazzettino: "It's a strange situation, not for us, but we haven't seen Benetton's full potential. They have a lot of quality but haven't been able to show it. They need to pick themselves up, and because of that, they are very dangerous.
"This season has been a priceless, yet tiring experience with all the travelling. I'm not completely satisfied, I was expecting a little bit more, to win the games that we could win.
"But I admire the players' desire and commitment to build up the team, particularly experienced guys like Geldenhuys, Bergamasco, Bortolami and Perugini. I'm a little worried about some of the youngsters who need to step up and must not think they've made it."
The Zebre side boasts six Italy internationals from their autumn campaign and there are three former Treviso players in the matchday squad – Mauro Bergamasco, Gonzalo Garcia and Giulio Toniolatti.
Goosen takes charge of Treviso for the first time and has selected Brendan Williams, Luke McLean and Ludovico Nitoglia in the back three with Christian Loamanu paired with Alberto Sgarbi at centre.
Mat Berquist and Edoardo Gori are the halfbacks while Robert Barbieri, Manoa Vosawai and Alessandro Zanni comprise the back row.
Captain Antonio Pavanello and Corniel Van Zyl are the locks, while in front is Lorenzo Cittadini, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alberto De Marchi.
At Stadio Monigo, 3pm (local time). Live on Sport Mediaset
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (SRU, 26th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Andrea Spadoni, Elia Rizzo (both FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Achille Reali (FIR)
TMO: Alan Falzone (FIR)