O’Shea wants fitter Italy

Italy head coach Conor O'Shea has targeted improving his side's fitness as being vital if they are to improve as a team under his guidance.

O'Shea, who left Harlequins at the end of the season to take the Azzurri hot-seat, was speaking to the media on Tuesday about the future.

His team will face Argentina, Canada and USA in June and he has warned his players they must improve their fitness or suffer from now on.

"Not everyone, but some players, to me, don't look fit enough to play at the highest level and they will cost the group," O'Shea revealed.

"It doesn't matter about your technical ability. If you're not fit enough you will die on the pitch in the last 30 minutes (of a game).

"We need to create a successful environment that they want to be part of. I want the team to make the fans proud. Italian people are characterised by passion and emotion and I want my players to deliver that to them.

"I played against a fantastic Italy side in the 1990s, and I think with the right mentality, we can be even better than that team. I want this to be the best Italian team ever."

When naming his squad for the upcoming games last week, O'Shea decided to leave captain and number eight Sergio Parisse out of the mix so he can rest after another long season in his career, The former Quins boss hopes that will have a positive impact on the player's form.

"I just hope he has a great summer and comes back fresh and raring to go. I cannot wait to work with him because he is one of the all-time great rugby players. I want Sergio to lead us into Japan," he added.

"I've looked at the players in the under categories. There's quality and ability there, and I think some of the U20s could come through very quickly."