Lions’ expectations and goals at the starting line for the new sports year
The 2022/2023 United Nations Rugby Championship season kicks off on Friday, September 16th from Monego Stadium, the home of Benetton rugby team.
At 18:30, the opening match against the Glasgow Warriors marks the beginning of a new adventure that will see the Lions participate in the Multinational Championship and Challenge Cup, aiming to improve upon the not-too-satisfactory results of 2021/2022.
At the starting line, Benetton appears wider and stiffer than last year’s, even if the challenge limits continue to rise.
The total number of players available for Marco Bortolami has grown exponentially, exceeding 60 units if we also include players belonging to the newly formed U22 Academy. need to make depth existingwhich derive above all from the intertwining of international obligations for players with those of the franchise: when Italy plays, Benetton loses a large number of its first-class players.
The challenge, now, is to effectively get the many young aspirants stationed in Treviso to grow: if, as in the past, there are periods when everyone can take their chances, the problem is to be ready on the shoulders of playing little rugby. .
In the market, Benetton has moved brilliantly regarding the possibilities. The six players who arrived from abroad were all of high quality. Leone took advantage of the opportunities that opened up by taking Marcus Watson from the Wasps, who needed to make room for a salary, and Ignacio Mendy, the Sevens talent in the Pumas circuit but so far still firmly established at his Argentine club. From the Southern Hemisphere comes the expertise and talent of Scrafton, Onesey Rataf and Henry Time Stores, who are called upon to make a difference. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne is a much needed replacement for Dewaldt Duvenage who begins blaming the mileage and rampant youth who, however, need time to be reliable from week to week.
However, some losses remain heavy: in addition to Monty Ioane, an offensive station that is difficult to replace, even the absence of Ernie Herbst and the meek of Andrés Coetzee will be felt. The second line division lacks such a physical and abrasive player, a staple of the team in recent seasons, while the South African extremist has not had the opportunity to show his skills and experience, which would have been an important factor in the equation. from black.
Scrolling through the team, the best quality and depth department appears to be the third line, with Lorenzo Cannon’s final leap in quality expected to be a substitute equal to Toa Halafihi. While Braam Steyn and Seb Negri have to find the best versions of themselves, the hips in the front beam are well covered by Michele Lamaro, Manuel Zuliani, Giovanni Pettinelli, Henry Time-Stowers and Scott Scrafton.
The least covered roles are instead the opening intermediate roles and the positions. In 10th place last season, he did not provide a real replacement for Thomas Albornoz. It will be up to Leonardo Marin and Giacomo da Re to dispel any doubts, while the young Giuliano Avaca, who has arrived from Cordoba, remains a mysterious being for the time being. Among the positions, Tommaso Minoncello must confirm a great first season, as must Filippo Drago, who performed well when he was called up last year. Brex and Zanon are relative certainties, while Joaquin Riera, a Swiss army knife, and Dewi Passarella, born in 2003 with great talent but no experience, complete the section.
If the team is scaled up, the same thing happened with the team members. works byCoach Marco Portolami Fabio Ungaro and Andrea Massi remained, while Callum McCray arrived to take over the defense in place of Paul Gustard. Julian Salvi, former Exeter Chiefs defense coach joins the staff: in Treviso, he looks after Separation, He was the one who as a player steals the ball exceptionally.
Alessandro Troncon is the new one Skills coach, to make an additional contribution to the team. The former blue half will also take care of the Accademia della Marca, the new Benetton U19 project, which will see the contribution of various personalities from the Lions technical team.
The last URC team saw Benetton put up good numbers in attack, scoring more points than the various teams that then qualified for the playoffs, but the crackdown is still necessary from a defensive standpoint: so you’ll be on MacRae and beyond. Expectations for improvements for the next season are focused.
“We want to perform better than last season, and improve our position in the standings. In the medium term, the goal is to be able to compete with the best teams and try to reach the playoffs.”
The words of Amirino Zatta, the club’s president, were uttered on August 25. A very realistic perspective: As the Italian Rugby League standard bearer at the URC, we’d like to see Benetton immediately race for a place in the top eight in the tournament, thus qualifying for the final stages. But the truth is that the 2021/2022 edition revealed that with the expansion of the competition to include 16 teams, the level has risen and much work is still being done to achieve the goal.
What we can think of this year’s Benetton is competing for a seat after season for most of the season. It won’t be easy, but the start of the season will tell us a lot: with 3 home games against Glasgow Warriors, Scarletts and Dragons in the first 4 days, getting the points back straight away should put the season on the right track.
In the Challenge Cup, the Lions can consider passing the first round. The match with the Stade Français and the Worcester Warriors is not difficult: the former has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t care much about the Apprentices Cup and that the English have other things to think about.
It wouldn’t be the first time Benetton had entered the next stage of the Challenge Cup, but it didn’t go any further. However, in this season, the Lions will mainly prefer United Rugby and the passing of the round is the minimum goal, but also satisfactory for Europe.
In light of this, the Challenge Cup can become an exciting place of testing for younger players, mixing with more experienced players to expose them to specific quality challenges with less stress on their shoulders.
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