Conor O'Shea's future as head coach of Italy was thrown into serious doubt on Saturday evening with PRO14 side Cheetahs saying that the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) have made an approach for Franco Smith.
O'Shea's current deal with Italy runs until after the 2020 Six Nations. However, the Cheetahs say that the offer to Smith is for him to take over as Italy head coach prior to next year's tournament.
The Management of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd is aware of the offer made to the Franco Smith, to coach the Italian National side as from 1 Jan 2020.
Management wish to assure stakeholders, supporters that the coaching structures will be structured to ensure success. pic.twitter.com/B8ygJ1gTrh
— Toyota Cheetahs (@CheetahsRugby) April 13, 2019
The former Ireland international took over as Italy head coach in the summer of 2016.
He said prior to this year's Six Nations that he would have no problem if the FIR were looking at alternatives to him.
"It's what you expect, because we're in this for Italian Rugby," said the 48-year-old
"Do they want me to stay on? Yes.
"Would I expect them to be looking at alternatives? They say they're not but I hope they are. If they weren't, they would be slammed for not looking at alternatives."
There is a possibility that the approach for Smith may see O'Shea move on to another role within Italian rugby.