Conor O'Shea: Italian Rugby Federation denies it wants to replace head coach
The Italian Rugby Federation says it is not seeking a new head coach after reports Franco Smith is to succeed Conor O'Shea after the Rugby World Cup.
Ex-Ireland full-back O'Shea has been in charge of Italy since 2016 and the FIR says it has no plan to replace him.
Instead, the federation says it is in talks to add to O'Shea's coaching team.
Cheetahs coach Smith, 46, was linked with a move to Italy after the Pro14 side said he will step down in November for an international coaching role.
The Cheetahs said Smith will remain in charge for their Currie Cup campaign, before taking up the "opportunity to coach the Italian national side from 1 January 2020".
The FIR issued a statement to clarify "no recruitment process for the national team head coach position is in place".
The statement added: "FIR also informs that interviews and negotiations are currently underway with international level coaches in order to integrate and strengthen the national men's team coaching party."
Smith, who won nine caps for the Springboks, finished his playing career in Italy with three seasons at Benetton Treviso before spending six years as head coach of the Italian side from 2007 to 2013.