The Italian Rugby Federation has confirmed that Michael Bradley has been appointed as head coach of Zebre ahead of the upcoming PRO12 season.
Zebre has undergone a massive transformation with new ownership, directors and a rebranding of the club under way.
It looked initially as if they might be forced into liquidation due to financial difficulties and withdraw from the PRO12 altogether but fortunately for Italian Rugby, they will still have two teams competing in the continental competition.
And now they have made further progress with the appointment of former Connacht boss Bradley with the former Ireland scrum-half being recommended to the board by Italy coach Conor O'Shea.
A statement from the Italian Rugby Federation read: “With the appointment of the new Chief Executive Officer, the composition of the franchise’s technical staff was also defined, the guidance of which was entrusted to Michael Bradley, the 55-year-old Irishman, [who] until last season [was] assistant coach of the Georgian national team, currently ranked twelfth in World Rugby.
“Bradley, whose name was indicated by Conor O’Shea, CT (commissario tecnico/head coach) of the national team with a view of full technical alignment between Italy and the two PRO12 franchises, will be joined by Carlo Orlandi as coach of the forwards and Alessandro Troncon as Trequartz coach: The pair of Italian technicians, who already assisted the National team during the management of Nick Mallett and Jacques Brunel, came to the Zebra after a long experience with the Italian U20, which ended in June with an historic place in the “top 8″ World Championships.”
Alfredo Gavazzi, President of the Italian Rugby Federation, added: “Participation at the Guinness PRO12 is strategic for the development of our high-level rugby and the choice of FIR to resume full control of the franchise, both from a management and sports point of view , will only guarantee a full alignment between the goals of the National team and Zebre Rugby Club.
"The technical staff could not be more consistent with those that are our high-level goals. Mike Bradley has been directly indicated by our CT O’Shea and can offer technical continuity between the club and the national team, is an experienced technician with previous experience both in the PRO12 and on the international scene."