Venter to remain with Italy
ROME: Respected coach Brendan Venter has been persuaded to extend his role as Italy’s defensive coach until the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The man responsible for Venter’s decision is Conor O’Shea, a former player who turned out at fullback and occasionally flyhalf and centre for Ireland, Lansdowne and London Irish.
He is now head coach of the Italian national team.
Former Saracens boss Venter had been linked with joining the backroom team of his native South Africa, but O’Shea convinced his former London Irish teammate to extend his role with the Azzurri.
O’Shea hailed Venter’s decision to remain with Italy as a real boost ahead of the Six Nations.
“I played and worked with Brendan at London Irish and I believe that this agreement is the best it can be, for us and for him,” said O’Shea.
“Brendan has had a great impact on the group and we are excited to be working with him for years to come. He is a coach respected by the whole international rugby scene and we are proud that he wanted to commit until the next World Cup.”
Italy’s rugby chiefs confirmed that qualified doctor Venter’s deal would allow him to continue to practise medicine in South Africa between Test rugby windows.
Meanwhile, Wales, Italy's opponents in the opening round of the Six Nations which starts on February 4, have announced a new captain and former skipper Sam Warburton has said he will continue to enjoy his rugby and be “more hungry” after losing the armband to Alun Wyn Jones last week.
Warburton, who led Wales a record 49 times over six years, was replaced by Jones as captain when stand-in coach Rob Howley announced his 36-man squad for the Six Nations last week.
“Captaincy has never been the motivation for me. It’s been lovely while I’ve done it but I can enjoy my rugby without it,” Warburton told the Times. “Not having the captaincy allows me to have a little bit more freedom. I want to have those nerves where I don’t know whether I am going to be in the starting XV or not.
“That is why I think it will probably make me more hungry not to have the captaincy. It is all driven towards trying to really improve my performance.” – ANA /Reuters