The Blues announced today that Pat Lam's job as coach of the Blues will be advertised next week. While the official line is that the 43-year-old is welcome to apply, he is unlikely to be seen in any role at the franchise next year. Here are some possible replacements.
The former All Black wing is the favourite to be involved in some capacity next season. He told the New Zealand Herald last month: "I'd come home tomorrow if I was offered the job. I'm passionate about the Blues region and it has been my goal to coach back in New Zealand." The former coach of Italy and Japan was an assistant at the Blues a decade ago.
Joe Schmidt/Jono Gibbes/Greg Feek
The Kiwi dream team is performing well at Leinster in Ireland. The club contests the Heineken Cup against Ulster at what will be a packed Twickenham on May 19. Head coach Schmidt is unlikely to want to return to Auckland for less money and kudos to coach the Blues.
It would probably only happen if a tilt at the All Black job was part of the plan.
Cotter, locked into a new deal with French club Clermont, was the only candidate to challenge Steve Hansen for the All Blacks job. It is understood that he has an exit clause from his club for an international job only.
Former Auckland coach Anscombe is about to join Irish heavyweights Ulster, proving he landed on his feet after being cut from the blue and whites.
Penney, who has led Canterbury to four straight provincial titles, has just signed two-year deal with Munster, another big Irish club.
Former Waikato and current Wales and Lions coach Gatland appears happy with his lot, although he is still recuperating in New Zealand following a fall from a ladder which led to severe foot injuries.
The former All Blacks assistant coach, who flirted with a position under England boss Stuart Lancaster, would be a good fit but has recently re-committed to the Chiefs.
Former South Africa and Italy coach Mallett is a strong and driven personality who has just missed out on a position with England. Blues would be a step down.