Ven­ter to re­main with Italy

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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

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