Former New Zealand international Kieran Crowley has been appointed as the new head coach of Italy replacing Franco Smith.
Smith took in charge of Italy post the 2019 World Cup will now move into the role of Head of High Performance in Italian rugby.
Crowley has played 35 Tests for New Zealand between 1983 and 1991 and was part of the 1987 World Cup triumph. He also enjoyed Bledisloe Cup series victories in 1985, 1990 and 1991.
Following his playing career, Crowley worked with Taranaki and New Zealand U19 before becoming the head coach of Canada between 2008 and 2016. He also worked five seasons with Italian club Benetton Treviso and led them to their first play-off appearance in the Pro14 in 2019.
“I’m honoured that the FIR have given me the opportunity to lead Italy to the next World Cup.
"In the five years with Benetton Rugby I’ve been able to learn and understand the country and it’s rugby culture, an understanding which I cannot wait to develop as head coach of the national team.
"We have a talented young generation who have recently had their chance at international level and in the PRO14 and have all the quality necessary to, along with the more experienced members of the squad with whom we will work, the spine of the Italy team for the next cycle.”
Crowley will be joined by Andrea Moretti (from Zebre), who will join as forwards coach with the backroom staff also comprising of Marius Goosen, Corrado Pilat and Giovanni Sanguin.