Thursday 21 September 2017

Former Connacht coach Michael Bradley to be named Zebre boss

Former Connacht coach Michael Bradley
Former Connacht coach Michael Bradley
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

Former Connacht coach Michael Bradley is expected to be named soon as coach of Italian side Zebre.

It’s understood the announcement had been held back until the club - who finished bottom of the Guinness Pro 12 – had come back under the control of the Italian rugby federation (FIR).

Zebre have finished bottom in four of their five seasons in the league. They  parted company with coach Gianluca Guidi in January, and now Bradley is expected to take over from caretaker Victor Jiminez.

Bradley’s arrival will bring to three the number of Irishmen involved now in coaching with the game in Italy: Stephen Aboud was appointed technical director by the FFR last summer, and Conor O’Shea took over the national job there last year when he left Harlequins.

Bradley, who has a longstanding relationship with Aboud since the latter ran the coaching programme for the IRFU, is expected to take up his new role in time for pre-season.

In late 2015 the former Ireland scrumhalf was tipped to get a spot on the Munster coaching roster when that group was being replaced, but instead Rassie Erasmus came in at the end of the season.

He spent seven seasons coaching Connacht where typically they were in the lower reaches of the Celtic League while performing well in the European Challenge Cup. A year later he went to Scotland where his two seasons with Edinburgh saw them finish 11th and 10th respectively in the Pro 12. They reached the Heineken Cup semifinal in 2012, where they were beaten by Ulster.

Bradley has been involved for the last three years as assistant coach to Georgia, who he helped in the 2015 World Cup where they won two of their four pool games.

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