Howley in link with Italian job.
ROB Howley has been heavily linked with the Italy head coach job.
The attack coach will call time on his 11 years with Wales this autumn as he departs alongside head coach Warren Gatland, defence coach Shaun Edwards and forwards coach Robin McBryde after the World Cup.
Italian website On Rugby claim the deal is already done for him to replace Conor O'Shea when the Irishman's contract expires in June 2020, and he could even take over in time for next year's Six Nations if the Italians flop at the World Cup.
The Echo understands that, while the strong links are not being dismissed, no deal has been done at this stage and Howley's only focus for the next two months is on Wales' own campaign in Japan. It's the latest job the 48-year-old has been linked to, with Munster another side to have been interested in his services.
Gatland is due to return to New Zealand after the World Cup, Edwards has been tipped to join France, while McBryde has landed a job with Leinster.
If Howley did get the Italian job immediately after the World Cup he could be returning to face Wales in the opening fixture of next year's Six Nations.
The report also states that Cheetahs Franco Smith will take the place of Mike Catt as attack coach.
Interestingly, Smith has been heavily linked with the head coach role himself in the past year.
In May, the Cheetahs put out a statement saying they had agreed to release Smith after this year's Currie Cup so he could coach the Italian national team.