QUEENSLAND Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie is believed to be the front-runner to be named the new coach of Ireland.
Betting agency William Hill has installed McKenzie, who announced last month he would leave the Reds at the end of this Super Rugby season, an odds-on favourite to take over from Declan Kidney whose contract will not be renewed after June 30.
"The odds tell the story - we believe that Ewen is the standout contender and if the wants the job it is as good as his," William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said.
Despite being linked to the Irish job last month, McKenzie denied he had spoken to anyone about the position.
At the time he also said he was definitely interested in becoming the head coach of the Wallabies at some point.
Others expected to be in the mix for the Ireland job include former North Sydney rugby league winger Les Kiss who has been Ireland's defensive coach and will lead the team on its coming tour of the US and Canada.
New Zealander Joe Schmidt, presently coaching Irish club side Leinster, and Brumbies coach Jake White have also bene mentioned as potential candidates.