Italy head coach Conor O'Shea highlights the exciting progress made by his team after beating South Africa

Azzurri's Irish head coach discusses guiding the Italians to a famous win

BY Raf Diallo 21:20 Wednesday 23 November 2016, 21:20 23 Nov 2016

New national rugby coach Conor O'Shea speaks to reporters during a news conference, in Milan, Italy, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. O'Shea, who was confirmed as Jacques Brunel's successor in March, gave his first news conference as Italy coach on Tuesday after seeing out his job as the Harlequins director of rugby. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Conor O'Shea believes Italy's historic win over South Africa has helped reduce some of the negativity surrounding the game in the country.

The Irishman is in his first year as Azzurri head coach and guided them to a first ever victory over one of the Southern Hemisphere's Big Three in Florence on Saturday by a 20-18 score. 

Before the game, O'Shea had been confident that a landmark result could be attained if Italy could stay in the game with the Springboks.  

"I was just delighted. We knew going into we had an opportunity if we could stay with them. I tried to explain to the players pre-match how the game would unfold if we could stay with them," he said on Off The Ball

"Even the players said after the game that you could feel the tension just mounting on the South African side. They're under so much pressure and so much scrutiny. It gave us that opportunity and our guys were incredible, the way they defended and tackled and stayed in the hunt. We took our opportunities, kicked our goals which always helps and found ourselves in a good position going down the stretch."

And in terms of the wider consequences, O'Shea says victory has changed the mood music surrounding the game in Italy.

"There's so much negativity about Italian rugby that this one result has changed a huge amount of people's belief and perceptions. But there is a long, long way to go before we can be competitive on a really regular basis," he said.

"But that result will kick off a huge movement over here, there's no doubt about that." 

He also added that stats are showing the team are miles ahead of where they were in terms of fitness for example and also sees more potential for growth.

"We're not going to go away over 60-70 minutes now. The team is capable of playing for 80 minutes and that's the starting point," he said.

O'Shea also added that there are many good young players coming through and highlighted the potential population pool.


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