Zebre captain Marco Bortolami knows the big challenge for his team is to be ready from the off in their opener against Cardiff Blues.
Zebre captain Marco Bortolami knows the big challenge for his team is be ready from the off in their opener against Cardiff Blues.
The Italian side took on local opposition in pre-season but know that the Welsh region, now coached by Mark Hammett, will provide a stern test.
The 34-year-old, entering his third season with the club, is wary of how other sides have strengthened their squads ahead of the new campaign.
“We are positive but I think that the other teams are better than last year. Cardiff are definitely better and much stronger. Dragons are much stronger than last year as well so the mid-table teams are in a better position,” said Bortolami.
“We had a couple of friendly games against some Italian sides which were not too difficult so I think the first game against Cardiff is going to be very interesting to see where we are and if we are in the same position as we were last season.
“It's very important to start with the right structure and hopefully we can win the first game of the season.
“The question is we have to be ready as individuals and as a team from game one, that's the big challenge.
“We have to be hard to beat, that's the basic point. Apart from that we can score tries and we have got some exciting players.”