Wayne Pivac will move to bring in Stephen Jones as his right-hand man for his four-year stint as Wales coach.
The Scarlets chief was confirmed on Monday afternoon as the man to take over from Warren Gatland after next year’s World Cup.
It’s a lengthy lead-in time for the 55-year-old New Zealander, but it will provide plenty of time for him to help negotiate a deal that will enable Jones to join him when he steps into Gatland’s shoes.
“Stephen Jones will be a very strong contender for a role with Wales, but we have to go through a process,” said Pivac.
“There are some very good coaches outside of Wales, also, but the good thing is that there is no rush.
“That’s something we’ll work through over the next 12 months. We’ll do what’s best for the country, to get the best results for the country.
“Whether it means getting someone from Wales or outside the country we’ll go through that in a timely manner. He (Stephen Jones) is someone who will be discussed with the coaching group as we go forward.
“I know a lot about him and other coaches out there as well. It will be a very thorough process.”
The timetable for Pivac – and his dual role over the next 15 months – is an attempt by the Welsh Rugby Union to gain the benefits of an organised succession, without Gatland feeling the breath of the next man too close to his collar.
Pivac – like Steve Hansen, a former New Zealand policeman, but with a sunnier disposition – will stay on in charge at the Scarlets until May next year for a fourth and final season.
He will take a break in June, join the WRU payroll in July, and then go to the World Cup in Japan in an observational role.
As soon as the tournament finishes on November 2, Pivac will take charge for a role that seemed highly unlikely when he first arrived in Wales as an assistant to Simon Easterby in 2015.
“Both Wayne and Warren and their coaching teams, our international players, supporters and everyone at the Scarlets now have clarity and there is no underestimating the positive benefit to be gained from having the time to plan properly for the future,” said WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips.
“We have avoided the feeding frenzy that can come at the end of a World Cup year and we have been meticulous in ensuring we have someone of the talent, experience, charisma and rugby acumen to do the very best possible job for Welsh rugby. The handover process is something we will plan carefully and commence in detail next summer.”
Pivac, who coached Fiji at international level from 2004 to 2007, has been in charge at the Scarlets for the past four seasons, having initially been assistant to Simon Easterby.
Under Pivac the Scarlets won the Pro12 title in 2017 and were pipped by Leinster when defending their title in the recently completed season. They also lost to Leinster in the semi-finals of this year’s European Champions Cup.
Gatland’s 12-year reign will make him the nation’s longest-serving and most successful head coach.
“I know I’m following in the footsteps of someone who is held in extremely high regard, not only by the Welsh public but also by the players who have played under him,” Pivac said.
“It’s a huge honour and a privilege to be given the opportunity to coach Wales after the Rugby World.
“I’d like to thank Gareth and Martyn for the process we’ve gone through. It was robust and I enjoyed the process.
“I want to continue the strong work done by Warren and his team, which I know they’ll continue through to the Rugby World Cup.
“I’d like to think I’ll do everything I can to emulate some of the results they’ve got and where we can to try and improve things.
“When I first came to Wales I was totally focused on doing a role with the Scarlets, knowing if that job went well it would lead to something else.
“I had a taste of international rugby with Fiji and thoroughly enjoyed that. For me it was a matter of how I would fit in with Wales and I’ve really enjoyed the experience, both in and outside of the rugby environment in Wales.
“I was going to look very seriously at it when the opportunity arose and for me it was a no-brainer. I think the Union’s in good hands and I want to be part of it.
For the moment, Pivac insists his priority is with the Scarlets and trying to achieve the goal of finally making a European Cup final.
“I’ve got a role to do there and nothing will change there over the next 12 months.
“But outside that there will be opportunities to do some of the groundwork and get myself up to speed. Having that ability to observe and plan early is going to be the benefit of all involved.
“But the next 12 months will be solely coaching the Scarlets. Warren will be the man in charge of Welsh rugby and I will be in supporting role as the other regions are.”