The Welsh Rugby Union have confirmed that they want to have their new coach in place and working alongside Steve Hansen during the up coming RBS Six Nations Championship, but they have refused to rule out employing another non-Welshman for the job.
The hunt for Hansen's successor will begin in earnest following the New Zealander's announcement that he will definately leave Wales when his contract expires in May.
The Welsh Rugby Union will publicly advertise the post before Christmas and hope to appoint the new man before the opening game against Scotland on February 14th 2004, giving them less than three months to get their man.
"We hope to advertise the post before Christmas, if not then soon after, and have the person employed so he can shadow Steve Hansen during the Six Nations," said Steve Lewis, WRU General Manager. "That would be the ideal scenario though we understand that it might not necessarily be possible."
All five regional bosses have been told they will have to apply, just as anyone else, and that there is no guarantee that the successful candidate will be Welsh.
"We just want to ensure we have the best man for the job, whether he is Welsh or not," said Lewis.
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference