England's soon-to-be-appointed interim coach could make the position permanent if he proves himself in the RBS 6 Nations according to RFU board member and Professional Game Board chairman Ian Metcalfe.
Stuart Lancaster, Brian Ashton and John Kirwan are among the candidates for the caretaker role, which the Rugby Football Union have pledged to fill before Christmas. It was thought that the interim would automatically step down once the new head coach has been named in time for the summer tour to South Africa, but Metcalfe insists they will also come under consideration if deserved.
"We haven't said that whoever holds the job on an interim basis should not be entitled to be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis," said Metcalfe. "Absolutely, if they do a fantastic job they will be considered within an open process alongside the others who are interested in the job."
He added: "It's the job of a lifetime in one sense - an opportunity to coach a team through the Six Nations and demonstrate their ability on the European stage."
Highly-regarded South African coach Nick Mallett is favourite to succeed Martin Johnson and his arrival at Twickenham would be welcomed by England supporters.
But Metcalfe agrees there is also a need for a well known figure to take on the interim post to begin the process of restoring the confidence lost during an abysmal World Cup.
When it was suggested the temporary coach should be able to lift the nation with his profile, Metcalfe responded: "I agree. We feel exactly the same, so we have to think through all of those aspects when we make the appointment."
If the RFU do deem a prominent figure is required to prove that England are heading in the right direction then Lancaster, coach of the second string Saxons, is unlikely to feature.
There has been dismay at Rob Andrew's involvement in the selection process for the interim and head coaches, but Metcalfe explained his contribution is purely managerial.
Andrew's demotion to professional rugby director has seen him stripped of responsibilities to the senior England team, but he will act as chairman of the five-man panel that makes recommendations to the chief executive.