The Italian Rugby Federation has released a statement refuting one released by the Cheetahs on Tuesday announcing that Cheetahs' head coach Franco Smith will take up the Italy head coach role as of next year.
The Italian Rugby Federation says it is not seeking a new head coach to succeed Conor O'Shea after the Rugby World Cup. Instead, the federation say they are in talks to add to O'Shea's coaching team.
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 statement released by the Cheetahs stated ‘Franco was offered the opportunity to coach the Italian national side from 1 January 2020 and the board of directors see this as a great opportunity for him. We are proud of and wish Franco the best of luck with the opportunity to coach on an international level until the next world cup in 2023.’
The FIR issued a statement to clarify that "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."
The Cheetahs have already begun the process of replacing Smith with Springbok Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus reportedly helping the side find a suitable replacement.
The franchise have rubbished reports that coaches such as Deon Davids, Hawies Fourie, and Matthew Proudfoot have been approached but they did confirm that the new coach will be appointed before the Currie Cup season.