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Conor O'Shea confirmed as new Italy coach

Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea has been confirmed as Italy's new head coach.

O'Shea takes over from Jacques Brunel, whose contract expired at the end of the 2016 Six Nations. The Irishman joins the Italy set-up on a deal until 2020, which starts at the end of the current domestic season.

He will be joined in Rome by former England back Mike Catt, who will serve as his attack coach. Their first task will be to preside over a three-Test June tour, which sees Italy take on Argentina, USA and Canada.

O'Shea arrives in Italy from Aviva Premiership side Harlequins, the club he joined in March 2010. During his time at the Stoop he guided the side to the Premiership title in 2012, the LV Cup and the European Challenge Cup in 2011.

With Harlequins currently lying in sixth, O'Shea will be hoping to finish his time at the club with a spot in the playoffs, while they are also still in the mix for the European Challenge Cup.

In a statement posted on the Italian Federation and Harlequins websites, O'Shea said: "As I said when I announced that I would be leaving, I feel the end of this season is the right time for me to take on a new challenge.

"And I am honoured, humbled and excited that I will be working with everyone in Italian rugby to ensure they can achieve on the undoubted potential they have as a rugby nation.

"I spent many years in the 1990s playing against a great Italian side, and I know there is the ability and will within this current group of players and the FIR to ensure that the current team can become the best Italian team in its history, but that is for another time.

"For me now, there is a job to finish at Harlequins and to ensure we finish this season as well as we can and see if we can add some more silverware to the trophy cabinet at this great club. I will say my goodbyes then, and not before."

Harlequins, meanwhile, say they will announce a new director of rugby "in due course," and will not make any comment until such time.

Catt returns to rugby after leaving his post as an England assistant coach in December following the host nation's spectacular 2015 World Cup flop when they failed to progress beyond the pool stage.

Catt, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree all departed the Rugby Football Union, with new England head coach Eddie Jones recruiting Steve Borthwick and Paul Gustard to work with him.

And Stephen Aboud, currently the Irish Rugby Football Union's head of technical direction, has also been appointed by the FIR as head of training from August 1.

FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi added: "The appointment of this new head coach, his assistant and the head of training is a crucial turning point for the Italian Rugby Federation.

"We have identified three of the highest-profile figures, three men who are in possession of what we believe are the most suitable qualities that can contribute to the development of our team.

"O'Shea is a coach with a record of success on the pitch and strong managerial skills, who will add extra value to all the various components of the Italian rugby set-up.

"We are excited to give Conor, Mike Catt and Stephen Aboud, who will play a crucial role in the development of Italian rugby, a warm welcome."

Press Association Sport contributed to this report