Duncan Hodge comfortable with Edinburgh trip to Italy as he identifies Zebre’s main threat

Duncan Hodge has dismissed concerns about Edinburgh travelling to Italy for Saturday’s rearranged Guinness Pro14 fixture against Zebre.

Edinburgh assistant coach Duncan Hodge expects a tough test in Zebre. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

The capital side’s assistant coach is confident all Coronavirus protocols will be observed as the visitors look for a win in their final match before the Six Nations.

“I’m pretty sure if there were any concerns we wouldn’t be going,” said Hodge. “We’re tested twice this week and all the protocols here and from SRU are extremely strict. I’m pretty sure that will be the case on Zebre’s side too or the game wouldn’t be going ahead. So I’ve no issues at all and am looking forward to the game.”

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Edinburgh have chartered a plane for the trip to Parma and will be holed up in their hotel until it is time to leave for the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Zebre's Italian international Carlo Canna will pull the strings for the Parma-based side. Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images

“It’s all changed from what we’re used to,” admitted Hodge. “There’s no more queuing in airports. You get in there, we have to charter an airplane, then straight on to a bus and then into the hotel.

“And we don’t leave the hotel. You follow protocols around distancing, masks, hand washing, play the game then straight back! It was the same in Bordeaux and when we played in Wales. It always has to be that detailed all the way through.”

Edinburgh will lose their international contingent for the large chunks of the next two months as Gregor Townsend’s Scotland embark on their Six Nations campaign, so a win in Italy is imperative while they still have their full squad.

Zebre are bottom of Conference A but have won as many games as Edinburgh this season - three - and Hodge expects a tough match

“They’re a good side with a big, strong, physical pack,” said Hodge. “They’ve got a back three that’s very quick and Carlo Canna at No 10 is the orchestrator. A lot of the play goes through him so you have to keep an eye on him.

“They’ve got a really good driving lineout which is one of their key strengths. They get a lot of penalties there that you have to negate. Defensively they’ve been better than they previously were. So they’ve really improved and you can see that in their results over the last couple of months.”

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