Brendan Venter takes on Italy defence coach role
Italy have secured in-demand Brendan Venter as defence coach until the 2019 World Cup.
Head coach Conor O'Shea has convinced his former London Irish team-mate to commit his future to the Azzurri, rather than explore coaching options in his native South Africa.
Former Saracens boss Venter had been linked with joining the Springboks' backroom staff, but will instead extend his role with Italy.
O'Shea hailed Venter's decision to remain with Italy as a real boost ahead of the RBS 6 Nations.
"I played and worked with Brendan at London Irish in the past 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 federation confirmed that qualified doctor Venter's deal will allow him to continue to practise medicine in South Africa between Test rugby windows.
Venter helped South Africa win the 1995 World Cup, before joining London Irish and impressing first as player and then on the coaching ticket.
The 47-year-old then progressed to a coaching spell with Saracens before returning to South Africa.
Venter helped mastermind Italy's 20-18 victory over the Springboks in November, and will now continue to bolster O'Shea's backroom staff.
A statement from Italy's rugby federation read: "The new relationship between Venter and the FIR will see the South African involved with the national team during all World Rugby windows, putting him in a position to continue to practise as a doctor in his home country."