New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced the launch of its recruitment process to replace All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen, with an appointment to be made in December.
Hansen's eight-year tenure at the New Zealand helm ended following the Rugby World Cup bronze final win over Wales, a semi-final defeat to England having denied him a shot at a second title.
NZR confirmed the search for his successor was under way in a statement released on Wednesday, in which the organisation said it had invited "applications from a small group of coaches familiar with New Zealand's professional rugby environment".
Chairman Brent Impey revealed the process – conducted by a five-strong panel – would take place throughout November and next month, with a head coach announced prior to Christmas.
"This is a hugely exciting time for New Zealand Rugby," said Impey. "We know that the All Blacks and New Zealand have been served well by exceptional coaches, so we are well aware of the importance of the task ahead.
"We believe we have an excellent group of people on the panel, balancing the experience of winning, high-performance teams and leadership with external perspective and experience."