Italy have confirmed that coach Nick Mallett will not have his contract renewed when it expires after the World Cup in New Zealand this autumn.

The 54-year-old South African, who took over after the 2007 World Cup, has led his team to six wins in 36 games.

Perpignan coach Jacques Brunel has been strongly linked with the role.

"The federation has taken the decision not to continue the relationship with Nick Mallett," read an Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) statement.

"[The decision is] due to previous experience of how a relationship between a coach and the national team that lasts more than four years might not produce the expected results."

The FIR would not reveal who would take over although reports in January indicated Brunel had been lined up to succeed Mallett.

Mallett took over from Pierre Berbizier in 2007, signing a four-year deal.

His Six Nations record of three wins in 20 games was marginally better than Italy's record before he arrived - five wins and one draw in 40 matches.

This season, Italy finished with their fourth consecutive wooden spoon despite recording their biggest win in the competition to date, a 22-21 victory over France in Rome.

But Italy's campaign was dogged by question marks over Mallett's future and Brunel said at the start of the year: "I've thought about it for many weeks but this Italian offer is unique at my age."

Mallett was linked with the performance director job at the Rugby Football Union but before the Six Nations campaign the former South Africa and Stade Francais coach ruled out coming to England, insisting: "It is not a job I'd get a lot of pleasure out of doing."

Under Mallett, Italy have beaten Fiji, Samoa and Argentina - and Scotland twice - as well as that win over France in March.

Wonder where he'll go. I've always thought he was a decent coach, but Italy just isn't strong enough for the 6N.