OLDER AND WISER: Tommaso Benvenuti has 'matured as a player and a person' and has recovered from a dip in form at Perpignan
GUILDFORD, 16 Sept – Tommaso Benvenuti has endured a mixed four years since he made his Rugby World Cup debut against Australia in Italy’s first match of New Zealand 2011.
Benvenuti, then 20, scored two tries against Russia in new Zealand and while his reputation grew over the next two seasons he did not feature at all in 2014 for the Azzurri. A return to form in English club rugby earned him a place in the Italy squad for England 2015, however.
“I have matured a lot, both as a player and as a person away from the pitch,” he said. “I’m no longer considered a young player. I am well into my career and need to confirm my potential. I’m not excused things any more and always have to give my best.”
The young centre had burst on to the scene at the start of the 2010-11 season with strong performances for Treviso against Leicester Tigers and Perpignan in the European Cup. He then made his debut during Italy’s 2010 autumn test series, against Argentina in Verona, and featured in the 2011 Six Nations before boarding the plane to New Zealand.
In the summer of 2012 Benvenuti signed for Perpignan in the Top 14, but the move did not fully go to plan as the Catalan side were relegated and he suffered a loss of form as well as a number of injuries.
HAPPY AT BRISTOL
A move to Bristol in the English Championship in January reinvigorated him and after a year away from international rugby he returned in the first of Italy’s warm-up matches against Scotland, and is now aiming to return to the heights of four years ago.
“There were a few injuries and then Perpignan were relegated to the French second division,” Benvenuti said. “The coach changed and things didn’t go well for me under him, plus I wasn’t playing my best. These things happen. But then I was lucky enough to arrive at Bristol and I found a great environment, very professional and I fitted in very quickly.
“I arrived halfway through the season, in January and it wasn’t easy because the squad was well established. It is a great group of players and the staff is great and a very high level. I’m happy there."
RNS ji/ bo