England could be looking to line up Michael Cheika to take over from Stuart Lancaster, according to reports in Australia.
The Australian newspaper said the RFU president, Jason Leonard, had sounded out Australia’s coach to see whether he would be interested in taking over England in time for the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
Cheika, who is contracted to the end of 2017, transformed Australia after his appointment a year ago, taking them to the World Cup final where they lost to New Zealand. On the way they defeated England, who became the first hosts not to make the knockout stages of the tournament.
Cheika, who won the 2009 Heineken Cup as the coach of Leinster, is due in London to coach the Barbarians against Argentina at Twickenham on 22 November.
Asked about his future recently, he said: “I’m in to 2017 and for me it’s irrelevant whether I’m on to 2019 or 2017 or 2016, I want to do the best so the team is in the right position to keep getting better.”
Lancaster is still the head coach while the RFU conducts its review of England’s World Cup campaign which is due by 17 November. He is contracted until 2020 but may be inclined to step down.
Cheika becomes the second high-profile name to be linked with England after the RFU denied approaching Nick Mallett, the former South Africa and Italy coach.