7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The Petrarca captain and Italian international centre declared: 'We are going to Portugal to win and initially go through to the quarter-finals.
"We have had some highs and lows in the Italian Championship but we got a good win last weekend to give us some confidence.
'We are ambitious once again for this competition - we are aiming for the semi-finals, and indeed the final, because a European final is something special.
'But we don't know a thing about RC Coimbra - we are going there with open minds. It's not as easy without videos to analyse certain parts of the opposition game but by the time we play them in the return leg, we will be a little bit wiser and we will be hoping to make home advantage count.
'The Parker Pen Shield is important for Petrarca Rugby - and for the development of Italian rugby - because before reaching the heights of the Heineken Cup, you have to progress through these competitions.
"After the Six Nations, the European competitions are the most attractive competitions of the season.
"For every player involved, young and old, they give you a huge amount of invaluable experience.
'I think Italian rugby is making huge steps forwards and I don't think you should throw everything up in the air and change the structure.
"I think if we continue to make progress and, with the work the Italian Federation is undertaking, I think that, within three to four years, we could be competing with the likes of Leicester Tigers and the other top clubs."