Tuesday 27 September 2016

Conor O'Shea turns down offer to coach Italy to stick with Harlequins

Gavin Mairs

Published 07/12/2015 | 10:27

Conor O'Shea, Harlequins' Director of Rugby
Conor O'Shea, Harlequins' Director of Rugby

Harlequins’ director of rugby Conor O’Shea has been approached by the Italian Rugby Federation about replacing Jacques Brunel as the next head coach of Italy.

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Brunel has been in charge of the Italy since taking over from Nick Mallett after the 2011 World Cup but his contract is not expected to be renewed after his side’s disappointing tournament this year.

O’Shea, who guided his team to an impressive bonus-point 38-7 victory against London Irish on Saturday, confirmed he had been contacted about the job but insisted he is remaining at Harlequins.

 O’Shea was first linked to the job in April and is thought to have been top of the FIR’s list of candidates to replace the former Perpignan head coach. “It’s flattering, but no, I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

“My job is here. It’s really nice to be mentioned like that, a massive honour, but my job is here and I want to make sure we continue it.

“They’ve been on and talked to me, but that’s natural. That happens in every walk of life, that people ask questions. You’re always linked. There are England jobs, Ireland jobs, club jobs. And it’s very flattering, but my job is here, full stop. I have been approached but I’m sure they’re talking to a load of people and my job is here.”

O’Shea took over at Harlequins in 2010 and won the Premiership title two years later. His commitment to the club will reassure their supporters and, on the evi­dence of his side’s display on ­Saturday, Quins look equipped to be contenders for silverware this season.

This victory against rock-bottom Irish, who are yet to register a point after six matches and are rolling their sleeves up for a relegation dogfight this season, keeps Quins in fourth place. England’s Danny Care was the stand-out player, scoring one of his side’s five tries and creating the second of Tim Visser’s hat-trick.

Quins looked more combative in the front five than they did last season, when they finished a disappointing campaign in eighth. Joe Marler led the charge while James Horwill has given the Quins pack a rock to build upon, with Chris Robshaw effective in adjusting to playing at blindside flanker to accommodate the Luke Wallace.

Fly-half Nick Evans, who kicked a first‑half penalty and supplied the inside pass for Visser’s first try, controlled the contest but it was the Scotland wing who stole the headlines with a stunning display, with two more tries after the interval clinching the bonus point before Jack Clifford added a fifth.

With Jamie Roberts due to join the club in two weeks’ time after his stint with Cambridge University and Marland Yarde close to returning after a serious infection of his leg, Quins will expect to improve even further.

“I’m delighted where we are,” O’Shea said. “There’s a lot of hard work to do in the toughest league you can imagine, but we’ll be right in there. If the team gets confident, who knows where it will go.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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