Italian side Aironi, have announced six new signings for their second season of Celtic rugby and Heineken Cup.
One of them – Tommaso D’Apice – has already played for Aironi as a permit player during last season. The 22 year old hooker collected three caps against Newport, Munster and Leinster during the Six Nations period. In the Aironi roster D’Apice will match up with his cousin Joshua Furno, the young lock revelations for the Italian side last season. Both are part of the squad named by Italy A for the upcoming Churchill Cup. D’Apice joins Aironi from Rugby Roma after two seasons in the Italian championship.
The most important signings concern the half-backs. Aironi put under contract scrum half Tyson Keats, a former back-to-back champions for Canterbury in the Air New Zealand Cup and committed with the Hurricanes during last two years of Super Rugby. With the Hurricanes, Keats collected 20 Super Rugby caps scoring 4 tries (he had three more caps with Crusaders in 2009). Adding Keats, Aironi wants to assure a faster pace around the rucks.
From Super Rugby arrives also Naas Olivier. Considered one of the most underrated talent in South African rugby, Olivier carves out a main role for Griquas and Cheetahs during last seasons. In 2010 he had his best year scoring 112 points for the Cheetahs (his Super Rugby total is 241 considering also the current season and a first stint with the Stormers). His vision of the game and his kicking accuracy covered one of the biggest gap Aironi showed during their first season.
Olivier will fight for a starting job with Italian international Luciano Orquera. The Argentinian-born fly-half returns to play for an Italian team after six years in France with Auch and Brive. Orquera progressed to play Test rugby for Italy during a spell with Petrarca Padova. His Italy debut, against Canada in 2004, was followed by a run in the 2005 Six Nations, where he started every game, but he would then spend three years away from the international landscape. He return with Azzurri in 2008 and in November 2010 started at half-back during the winning match against Fiji. He also played in every game of 2011 Six Nations. Orquera brings to Aironi all his international experience with 22 caps for Italy and 26 appearances between Heineken and Challenge Cup with 4 tries and 155 total points.
The other two new boys are young Italian talents, both coming from Crociati Parma. Fullback Ruggero Trevisan and flanker Filippo Ferrarini surprised during their first ever campaign in the Italian Eccellenza, having a big role in helping Crociati to reach a spot in the semi-finals. Trevisan collected 15 caps with a try and a drop scored and gains a spot in the Italy A team that will play Churchill Cup. Ferrarini scored twice in 11 appearances.