England's failed World Cup coach Stuart Lancaster has emerged as a shock contender to take over at the helm of the Queensland Reds.

The Queensland Rugby Union has consistently talked up the quest as worldwide for the experienced head coach to steer the Reds out of their three-season slump.

Current co-coaches Matt O'Connor and Nick Stiles both have strong ambitions to head the Reds next season and the QRU has said they will be on the short list of final candidates.

Lancaster, 46, resigned before he was punted after England's muddled and embarrassing exit at the pool stage of their own World Cup last year.


England have won a Six Nations crown since replacing Lancaster with Eddie Jones, who will steer the side into the big first Test against the Wallabies at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.

Lancaster's 28 wins from 46 Tests in charge included triumphs over the All Blacks and Wallabies (two) and he was respected for his organisational skills and rebuilding of team culture.

Both are elements the QRU regards highly but he did delegate much of the on-field coaching to assistants.

With hands-on pair O'Connor and Stiles at the Reds for another two seasons and both well regarded by the players, a head coach to sit above them is one possible scenario.

When chairman Damien Frawley announced Richard Barker as the QRU's chief executive last week, he said he hoped a new coach could be settled in four-to-six weeks.

"A lot of work is being done under the radar sifting through availability and who is the right person," Frawley said.

Kiwis Robbie Deans (Wallabies), John Mitchell (Force) and Daryl Gibson (Waratahs) have brought an international flavour to coaching top Australian teams although Lancaster would become the first English head coach of an Australian Super Rugby side.