When it comes to career highlights most sportsmen or women point to trophies in the cabinet or medals on the mantlepiece - but not Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea.

The former Stoop chief eases into his new job with Italy this week having overseen a period of unprecedented success at Quins, which included claiming the Amlin Cup, Premiership title and the LV= Cup in successive seasons during his six-year tenure.

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Clearing his desk: Conor O'Shea officially takes over as Italy chief this week after six years with Harlequins

His players could not send him off with another piece of silverware in his pocket after the European Rugby Challenge Cup final defeat to Montpellier on May 13.

O'Shea has helped bring Mike Brown, Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Jack Clifford to the forefront of English rugby.

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Fixture: Quins flanker Chris Robshaw was captain of club and country during Conor O'Shea's time at the helm 

While behind them is a tranche of talented youngsters earmarked follow them to the upper echelons of the game.

Developing future talent has long been a remit of the affable Irishman following stints as the RFU's director of regional academies and national director of the English Institute of Sport.

And it will be the sight of young players flourishing - not the trophies - that will be O'Shea's fondest memory as he clears his desk at the club's Surrey Sports Park training ground.

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Formidable: Joe Marler has become seasoned England international under the guidance of Conor O'Shea

"If you had offered me what I have achieved when I took over, I would have bitten you hand off," he said.

"But watching young men grow and become better people and better players is probably the main thing I will take away.

"People tell me Joe Marler is getting on, but when you tell them he is 25 years old they are surprised.

"People think the likes of George Merrick, Sam Twomey and Charlie Matthews are gnarled and seasoned professionals, but they are all still around 22-23 years old.

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Next generation: Conor O'Shea has earmarked Sam Twqomey as a star of the future

"Joe Marchant is beginning to take his first steps in the game, too.

"This is a young squad that is only going to get better with experience.They are fabulous young players and once they get the confidence of winning things they will flourish and I look foward to watching them

"Whether the club is in a better place than when I arrived, is for other people to judge.

"I have given everything I can and I have loved every minute of my time here. I can't put into words how I feel.

"People will say we should have kicked a few more points or kept the ball in play at certain times, but I wouldn't change a thing

"I will leave behind many friends and many fond memories."

Quins slipped out of the Premiership's top six on the season's final day and will play European Challenge Cup rugby again next season's after defeat to Montpellier.

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Old head on young shoulders: Charlie Matthews is younger than you might think, having established himeslef in the Quins engine room

But O'Shea, who will move to Italy with his family, is confident replacement John Kingston will have the club competing at Europe's top table sooner rather than later - having learned the lessons from a season marred by injury, international absences and loss of form.

"When you look back to the opening two months of the season we were playing brilliantly, but we lost momentum going into the Six Nations and never got it back.

"They will learn from that.

"We got injuries in key positions at the wrong time of the season and this Premiership is brutal - it is every year.

"This group of players is incredibly motivated to be up at the top challenging again and they will be there next year."