**During the lengthy pause in Guinness PRO14 action, it is safe to assume that among the most frustrated groups of players will have been the rising stars of the Championship, desperate to build on all the hard work they had put in to establish themselves during the first 13 rounds of the season.**\n\nDespite languishing towards the bottom of Conference A, Italians Zebre have been buoyed by the impact of young hooker Marco Manfredi throughout the 2019/20 campaign. \n\nThe 22-year-old - who made his debut for the Parma-based side last season - has proved a shining light in Michael Bradley’s improving team, who recorded two Championship wins in four games between late November and early January, and are hopeful of a highest-ever finish in the competition’s current format. \n\nHaving risen through the various age groups at international level, Manfredi is well within the sights of Azzurri head coach Franco Smith, and is widely being tipped for the big time having made such a big impression already at club level. \n\nThis should be just the start of a long and distinguished career, and with the season restart drawing ever nearer, Manfredi will be eager to kick on with Zebre and build on the strong foundations he has already put in place. \n\n# **Starting out**\n\nBorn in Freiburg, Germany, Manfredi made his first real mark on the rugby scene at Venice-based side San Dona in the 2015/16 season, during which he made seven Eccellenza appearances ahead of his 19th birthday. \n\nHis stock rose as a result of a string of stellar performances for Italy at the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2016, and he was consequently offered a two-year spell in the Montpellier youth academy.