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O'Shea insists job is safe

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'We're in the process of identifying someone to supplement and add to our current coaching group'

Conor O’Shea will be inducted into the Irish rugby hall of fame on Wednesday night adamant his international career is far from over and he will be in charge of Italy after World Cup in Japan.

PRO14 club Cheetahs announced on Tuesday that Franco Smith would be taking up the head coaching role with the Italians from January 1, 2020, a revelation refuted by the Azzurri rugby federation. 

Now O’Shea has moved to clarify the confusion, telling RugbyPass his own position is not under threat. “We are in the process of identifying someone who is going to join our coaching team post-World Cup and into next year’s Six Nations. 

“That is to supplement and add to our current coaching group. If you look at our whole management team – and I’m talking about medical and physical – we probably have the least resources of anybody.

“All we are doing is trying all the time to improve what we have – that is all we are doing. Hopefully, we have identified the person but we will have to wait and see.”

The improvement shown by the Italian franchises in the PRO14 has given O’Shea confidence that the sea-change he has tried to bring about below international level is delivering more players capable of operating at Test level. 

The majority of the long term injured players are now back to help prepare for the World Cup where Italy’s ability to translate their improved attacking play into wins will be under the microscope. 

They are in the same pool as New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Namibia and O’Shea, whose team have warm-up games with Ireland, Russia, France and England, said: “Our injury situation has improved with a couple who are going to be touch and go. It is a tough warm-up period and we start preparations on June 2. 

“To get to the highest level is always hard work and we have put in place things that were needed, but there is still loads to do. We are getting more competitive at test level and we will only get stronger.”

READ: Franco Smith’s February interview with RugbyPass about his views on PRO14 versus Super Rugby standards

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'We're in the process of identifying someone to supplement and add to our current coaching group'