The Highlanders have begun their search for a new head coach to replace Jamie Joseph at the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark said the Highlanders Board and New Zealand Rugby would look to finalise a replacement before the end of the current season.
“We are keen to get this process under way now so we are actively seeking expressions of interest over the next month or so with a view to making an appointment mid-year. We want to cast the net far and wide and now is the ideal time to be in the market as the Japanese season has concluded and the Northern hemisphere season is drawing to a close,” Clark told the Highlanders website.
Joseph will take up his role as head coach of Japan at the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season and will guide their national team through to their campaign as host union of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
“We are looking for a quality field to choose from. We are very proud of what we have achieved here already, and we are proud of the environment we have.
"There’s a very strong sense of community in our Highlanders family and we know that it’s a fantastic place to live and work. We’re looking forward to having someone new add more value to that,” he added.
New Zealand Rugby general manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said the Highlanders had established a strong professional rugby environment under Joseph and the new head coach would build on much of the good work already achieved.
“This is an exciting time for the Highlanders – as current champions they have great momentum heading into the next few years and we are excited about what the future holds for them.”