Super Rugby outfit Western Stormers appeared to accept the inevitable on Thursday with former All Blacks coach John Mitchell a possible replacement for soon-to-be England coach Eddie Jones.
Some British media said Jones could take charge of World Cup flops England as soon as Friday amid reports the Australian is in London finalising negotiations.
After steering outsiders Japan to three victories at the recent global showpiece – including a stunning 34-32 triumph over former champions South Africa – Jones signed a three-year contract with the Cape Town-based Stormers.
But just a few training sessions into his new job, the 55-year-old has seemingly been lured to London, charged with turning England into 2019 World Cup title contenders in Japan.
The defiant Jones-is-going-nowhere mood of Stormers officials just a few days ago turned to near-acceptance Thursday that they were set to lose a man reportedly hired on a ($US1.1 million ($A1.53 million) deal.
“We are aware of speculation regarding the future of Eddie Jones,” Stormers director of rugby and former Springbok forward and assistant coach Gert Smal told the South African media.
“No further comment will be made until we have clarity on the situation.”
While not an admittance that Jones was leaving, the comments were a far cry from the do-not-believe-what-newspapers-say line of 48 hours before.
A Stormers official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP: “We are going to lose Eddie. It is a matter of when he goes not if he is going.
“John Mitchell is a possible replacement. We have to move fast as I believe he is in demand and the Super Rugby season is just three months away.”
The England post became vacant when Stuart Lancaster resigned last week after losses to Wales and Australia condemned England to being the first World Cup hosts not to reach the knockout stage.
Jones initially dismissed reports that he might take over the Red Roses, telling Cape Town reporters: “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers, mate.”
South Africa-based Mitchell, who led the Golden Lions to the 2011 Currie Cup title and was a Johannesburg-based TV analyst for the World Cup, had an approach from the Stormers some months ago.
The opening arose when Allister Coetzee left after the 2015 Super Rugby season for a lucrative contract with a Japanese club.
“I showed some interest in the Stormers and was offered the coaching position,” Mitchell confirmed Thursday.
“Unfortunately, negotiations did not turn my head,” he added, with the sticking point reportedly being that Mitchell wanted a four-year deal and was offered only two years.
“I would consider the Stormers’ coaching position if it was offered, but nobody has spoken to me,” added the 2002-2003 New Zealand coach.