Brendan Leonard is loving life in the Heineken Cup and is relishing Saturday's reunion with Connacht's Craig Clarke.
The duo, under Clarke's captaincy, clinched back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs before departing the Land of the Long White Cloud in the summer.
Zebre who have never won in the Heineken Cup conceded six tries against Toulouse in Round One.
But their talismanic Kiwi scrum-half is looking forward to welcoming his former skipper to Stadio XXV Aprile.
"We played Connacht in the first round of the Pro12 and I have a couple of good mates there," said Leonard.
"It's at home and we haven't won here yet so it's important that we put in a good performance.
"I've played a lot of rugby with Craig Clark at the Chiefs. It's always nice to catch up with those boys and we have them four times this year. It's good to run into Kiwi boys.
"Like myself he was looking to try a different level of rugby. He had done a lot for the Chiefs region and Taranaki in the NPC. It was a good time for a change for him and I'm sure he will do very well at Connacht."
Saturday's defeat to the four-time Heineken Cup champions was Leonard's first taste of Europe's elite club competition.
It is a tournament he always kept a close eye on in while plying his trade in New Zealand and he has been hugely impressed by the atmosphere and support in the competition.
"This why I came over here, to challenge myself in a different environment and no doubt it will be a really tough game," added the former All Black.
"I watched the highlight shows of the Heineken Cup back in New Zealand but with the time difference there wasn't a lot of live stuff.
"Back home it's looked at for the level of rugby, it's a step up from the Pro12 and I'm really looking forward to the Connacht match.
"It's a different atmosphere up here. It might be a smaller crowd than in the internationals but there's still a lot of noise.
"The stadiums are close to the pitch so it makes for an intense atmosphere and that's something I have really enjoyed in the six weeks I have been here."