Leinster have identified Mike Ford as one of the leading candidates to become their new defence coach following the departure of Kurt McQuilkin.
McQuilkin has decided to return to New Zealand, leaving Leinster with little time to fill his role.
“Kurt leaving will obviously leave a hole,” head coach Leo Cullen told the Irish Times just over two weeks before the PRO12 season commences.
“He has had to move on for family reasons. For us now it is an opportunity to add somebody really positive into the group.”
Leinster open their season against Treviso on September 2, and they have spread the net wide as they search for a replacement.
Former England assistant coach Andy Farrell as well as former New Zealand coach Graham Henry have been ruled out. The plan was for Farrell to take a short-term dual role with Leinster and Ireland, but Ireland's expanded November schedule has ruled that out.
Henry, who spent two weeks with the squad earlier this month, is not available on a permanent basis.
“I don’t see it happening,” said Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty. “He has got his own roles in New Zealand. His family is there.”
Ford is an attractive option to Leinster considering his wealth of experience, something the rest of the Leinster coaching staff lacks. He has previous experience with Irish rugby and still looking for his next move after Bath released him from the director of rugby position he held there since 2013.
Ford spent four seasons as Ireland defence coach from January 2002 and was part of the coaching staff for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2005.
He joined Saracens as skills coach but was promoted to head coach before returning to a specialist defensive role to help England reach the 2007 World Cup final.