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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 March 2006, 16:23 GMT
Wales want new coach next month
Scott Johnson
Scott Johnson has been in temporary charge since 14 February
Wales rugby union chiefs hope to have Mike Ruddock's permanent successor as head coach in place next month as they begin a worldwide search on Monday.

An advertisement has been posted on the WRU's website and chief executive Steve Lewis confirmed overseas applications will be welcome.

"In an ideal world he would be Welsh but we are not making that condition for applicants," he said.

"Quite simply we want the best person for the job."

Lewis said the WRU had already received a "significant amount of interest" from around the world in a post he describes as "one of the most important positions in Welsh life".

We should get a clearer indication from Scott Johnson next week about his future
Steve Lewis
"With a tour to Argentina coming up in June and the World Cup looming large on the horizon the panel needs to move quickly to secure a quality candidate," Lewis added.

"We hope to be in a position to interview and appoint in April."

Llanelli Scarlets coach Gareth Jenkins, the leading Welsh contender, recently ruled himself out of the job while the likes of Lewis and chairman David Pickering are still at the WRU.

Current caretaker coach Scott Johnson, the players' favourite, indicated this week he would not be applying for the position - heightening expectations he will take up a post as Australia assistant coach.

We need to know soon because we need to make a decision
ARU official Peter Davies
Johnson has pressing family issues back home but the WRU, who want to keep him on board, and the Australian Rugby Union have both demanded an answer from him this week.

"Scott Johnson's contract as skills coach expires at the end of the season and we should get a clearer indication from him next week about his future," said Lewis.

"It is obvious the Australian Rugby Union would like to get him on board and New Zealand is also lurking around in the background, but he has other issues he has to settle before he can commit one way or the other."

ARU high performance general manager Peter Davies said on Friday he expected a decision from Johnson "a week from now."

"We respect that Scott has work to do with Wales yet, but we need to know soon because we need to make a decision," Davies said.

The WRU are also mulling over whether to make revelations about Ruddock's resignation public knowledge.

Lewis spent two weeks travelling round the country talking to all 245 WRU member clubs about Ruddock's departure.

What was discussed on the "Red Zone Roadshow" could be made public once all the legal implications have been considered.

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