The Crusaders have brought forward their search for a replacement for coach Todd Blackadder, who steps down at the end of the season after eight years in charge of the Super Rugby side.
The Christchurch-based franchise originally signalled it would wait until the end of this year’s competition to avoid making the appointment process a distraction.
But chief executive Hamish Riach says the board has since decided to start the process immediately, believing the timing will be better for planning for next year.
He says after discussions with the coaching and management team, the board feels the risk of distraction can be managed.
Chairman Grant Jarrold says the process will be open and contestable.
“We want to allow the best opportunity for the best applicants to put themselves forward for this job,” he said.
“We are also mindful of creating as much certainty as possible for those currently involved with the team.”
Applications close on May 11.
The Crusaders are Super Rugby’s most-successful side, with seven titles.
They haven’t added to that tally under Blackadder, although they have twice made the final.