Franco Smith will succeed Conor O'Shea as Italy head-coach after this year's Rugby World Cup.
The Cheetahs have confirmed that they've reached an agreement for Smith to take up the position on January 1st of next year on a three-year contract.
Smith is no stranger to rugby in Italy, having coached Treviso for six-years between 2007 and 2013 before taking up the Cheetahs job in 2015.
The South African side say he'll stay in charge until the end of their Currie Cup campaign but they'll appoint a new coach ahead of the new Guinness Pro14 season.
"Franco was offered the opportunity to coach the Italian national side from 1 January 2020. The Board of Directors see this as a great opportunity for Franco and is proud of the fact that so many top coaches have been developed by the Free State Cheetahs.
Free State Rugby is seen as a breeding ground of opportunity with coaches like Rassie Erasmus, Niel Powell, Jacques Nienaber, Pote Human, Brendon Venter, Rory Duncan, Daan Human, who all started off in the Free State – and in the past, Nelie Smith, Gysie Pienaar and others.
The Board of Directors is proud of and wishes Franco the best of luck with the opportunity to coach on an international level until the next world cup in 2023.
In order to ensure a smooth transition, Franco will remain in the position as Head Coach for Currie Cup, where after the new coach will take over the reins for Guinness PRO14 later in September.
The new coach will be part of the coaching structures during Currie Cup to experience the culture."
O'Shea's been the coach of the Azzurri since 2016 and will lead them into the World Cup.
It's not yet clear if the former Ireland full-back will take on a new role within Italian rugby.
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