Berbizier set for Kirwan's Italian job

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The Independent Online

The Italian Rugby Federation president, Giancarlo Dondi, believes he will be in a position to name a new coach for the national team early next week.

The Italian Rugby Federation president, Giancarlo Dondi, believes he will be in a position to name a new coach for the national team early next week.

Reports suggest that a Frenchman - possibly the former France scrum-half and coach Pierre Berbizier - has been shortlisted, but Dondi claimed no deal is yet done to name a successor to John Kirwan.

"We have talked a lot with him [the new coach] in the last few days and to be honest both parties are happy about everything," he said. "But he wants a few more days to decide. I'm sure on Monday or Tuesday we will have his final decision, which hopefully will be positive for us."

Kirwan was sacked after Italy lost all their matches in this year's Six Nations Championship.

In the Super 12 yesterday the All Black scrum-half Byron Kelleher scored two tries and laid on a third as the Chiefs thrashed South Africa's Cats 45-14 in Hamilton. Kelleher scored the opening try in the 13th minute, when he darted over from the back of a ruck, and crossed again in the second half.

Kelleher also set up a try for the lock Bernie Upton as the Chiefs gained a third win of the season. The Cats, second from bottom in the table, managed consolation tries from their full-back Conrad Jantjes and the back-rower Juan Smith.

In Durban, the South African Rugby Union announced that a Central Unions franchise will be its fifth team for the expanded Super 14 in 2006.

The franchise, which includes the Free State, Griqualand West and Griffons unions, is likely produce a team known as the Central Cheetahs. The area was awarded the franchise ahead of the Southern and Eastern Cape, which had the support of the South African sports minister Makhenkesi Stofile.

The four existing teams - the Bulls, Sharks, Stormers and Cats - will continue but will have to utilise players from smaller unions and play some matches away from their main centres in an effort to spread the game.

The five regions will be based in the five major centres of rugby in the country: Johannesburg (Cats), Pretoria (Bulls), Cape Town (Stormers), Durban (Sharks) and Bloemfontein (Cheetahs).

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