Rome - Former Springbok centre Brendan Venter has joined Italy as defence coach, the Italian rugby federation announced on Monday.
The former Saracens boss, regarded as one of the most astute figures in the game, was part of the South Africa side that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
The 47-year-old qualified doctor joins Italy coach Conor O'Shea's management staff in a deal that runs until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
"I played and worked with Brendan at London Irish and I think this is the best possible deal for us and for him," said O'Shea.
Venter's expertise has already proved beneficial to Italy as he worked alongside O'Shea on an ad hoc basis for the autumn Tests when the team inflicted an historic defeat on South Africa.
"Brendan has had a great impact on the group and in the way we defended (against South Africa) and we are excited to be working with him for years to come.
"He's a coach who is respected by the whole international rugby scene and we are proud that he chose to join our project until the next Rugby World Cup."
Venter, who is planning to continue his medical practise in South Africa when time allows between Tests, was capped 17 times between 1994 and 1999.
Italy can now count two world champions on its backroom staff as Venter joins Mike Catt, the England 2003 World Cup winner who works with the forwards.