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Ex-Connacht and Ireland U19 centre Parata signs for Bradley's Zebre

The versatile back returns to professional rugby after a stint in New Zealand.

FORMER CONNACHT CENTRE Rory Parata has signed for Guinness Pro14 side Zebre until the end of the season.

Rory Parata breaks free to score his sides second try Parata on his way to a Champions Cup try for Connacht against Wasps in December 2016. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Parata, who played for Ireland at U19 level, joins Michael Bradley’s side having left Connacht late last season.

The 23-year-old moved to New Zealand - where he played with the Harbour club in Dunedin – after leaving the Irish province but now returns to professional rugby with Zebre.

The move to Parma will see Parata will link up with former Connacht team-mate Ciarán Gaffney, who signed for Zebre at the start of the season following his own stint in Dunedin and has gone on to make 14 appearances for the Italian franchise.

Parata will hope to earn similar game time over the coming months under ex-Ireland international Bradley, the former Connacht head coach who also had spells with Edinburgh and Georgia, as well as leading Ireland on their 2008 tour to New Zealand and Australia as interim boss.

Parata, a native of Australia whose father hails from New Zealand and whose mother is from Cork, came through the schools ranks with Rockwell College in Munster before making the move to Connacht to join their academy in 2013.

He went on to make 21 senior appearances for the western province, including two starts in the Champions Cup in the 2016/17 season, before being released early from his contract in order to move to New Zealand.

Parata has the versatility to play across the backline and some of his most recent rugby in New Zealand was at out-half, although he largely featured in midfield for Connacht.

Zebre have won three of their 12 games in the Pro14 this season, while losing all four of their Challenge Cup games so far, but Italy head coach Conor O’Shea has stated that great progress has been made behind the scenes at the club under Bradley’s stewardship.

Parata will hope to be part of further improvement for the remainder of the season as he looks to make his mark on the Pro14 once again.

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