ZEBRE head coach Michael Bradley has encouraged his players to continue playing high-risk rugby when they face a Glasgow Warriors team he considers one of the leading contenders for the Pro14 title tonight.

The former Edinburgh coach, who took the capital club to the Heineken Cup semi-finals in 2012, led the Italian side to their best-ever season during his first year in charge in 2017/18.

Zebre claimed seven league victories, including wins over Ulster and Ospreys, but collapsed to a chastening 68-7 defeat against Warriors at Scotstoun during their last meeting in March.

However, Bradley insists his team will stick to their guns as they return to Scotland looking to pick up their first away points of the season against a side he has marked out as one of the strongest in the division.

“We tend to try and hold onto the ball and keep it alive, it’s more risky rugby we play but it’s a style that if it comes off will be very fruitful in terms of scores,” he told Herald Sport.

“I would encourage the boys to keep doing that. We’ve predominantly got Italians available to us to play and at this moment in time we’ve got very skilful players but they’re not physically the biggest.

“So the game we look to line up with is to keep the ball alive, keep possession, take risks and see where that leads us.

“I think Glasgow will be in the top five or six teams in the league for sure. They’re very strong, have good coaching staff, a good group of players and play very good rugby so I think they’ll be contenders for this league.

“Obviously they’ve won it in recent years too so they’re a very tough outfit to get points from.”

“Glasgow’s defence is very aggressive,” he added. “Their scrum is very strong and they’re able to hold onto the ball for long periods of time, so you have to manage your possession and put pressure on them where you can.”

Warriors have started the new campaign strongly and top Conference A with four wins from five games.

However, a shock 38-28 defeat to Southern Kings a fortnight ago highlighted some chinks in the armour and provided Bradley with food for thought in his preparation for the trip to Glasgow.

“(Kings) used a good kicking game in behind Glasgow,” he said. “They have a lot of speed in their side and are very dangerous on loose ball, so those are all elements we’ll track through in our preparation for this match.

“But to be fair to Glasgow they made a lot of changes for that match and it’s more likely they’ll go with the side that played against the Dragons over the weekend, preparing for the Saracens match.”

Zebre have struggled away from home, losing both of their matches outside Parma so far this season, against Connacht and Dragons, after registering just three wins on the road last season from 11 games.

While Bradley has identified his side’s travel sickness as an issue, the 55-year-old Irishman believes the Italian club have gone about things the right way by focusing on making their home ground a difficult place for opposing teams to travel to, having already beaten Kings and Cardiff Blues at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi this season.

“We’ve had a couple of very good performances and two bonus point wins at home and one loss,” he said.

“Away from home we’ve found it more difficult, so that’s more of a challenge for us.

“I think most sides if they had a choice would take a home match rather than an away match, and if they had the resources to win both or be competitive in both then they’ll obviously want to win both.

“I think it’s normal if you look on balance. Glasgow have a fantastic home record and they didn’t do so well against the Kings, so it just happens.

“That’s the correct foundation, to perform in front of your own fans and try to develop the relationship with the fans, the sponsors, develop a strong base and then try and do what you can away from home.”