Former New Zealand international Kieran Crowley was hired as Italy rugby coach on Wednesday, replacing Franco Smith.
Crowley has been coach at Italian club Benetton since 2016. He coached at international level with Canada from 2008-16.
Smith, a South African who took charge after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, will move into a new role as the head of high performance in Italian rugby.
"In the five years with Benetton Rugby, I've been able to learn and understand the country and its rugby culture, an understanding which I cannot wait to develop as head coach of the national team," Crowley said.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Crowley won the World Cup as a player with the All Blacks in 1987.
Italy is coming off a sixth straight last-place finish in the Six Nations, igniting the debate over whether the Azzurri deserve their guaranteed place in the competition.
Duncan Sandlant from Esportif who are the global market leaders in the management of head coaches and assistants highlighted Crowley's previous success.
"If you look at the impressive job that Kieran and Neil Barnes did with the Canadian national team where they achieved their highest ever world ranking of 11th in 2011 and what has happened to Canada since he left - they now sit 22nd on the world rankings - it is clear he did a very good job," Sandlant said.
"If you then combine this with his equally impressive record with Treviso where they were near the bottom of the league when he arrived in 2016 to what he achieved in 2019, three seasons later where he took Treviso to the playoffs - with a budget significantly lower than almost every other team in the league. He was then voted the PRO 14 head coach of the year which shows it's clearly a very good appointment by Italy on a number of levels. "