John Kirwan has backed Nick Mallett to be the next England coach after being told by the Rugby Football Union's head-hunters that he was not experienced enough to be considered.
Odgers Berndtson informed Kirwan he was not being put forward to the interview stage because he had not coached a leading rugby nation. He was told there were two other candidates who did meet that criteria - likely to be Mallett, the former South Africa coach, and ex-Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan. England's interim coach Stuart Lancaster has also reached the interview stage.
"I think Nick Mallett would be perfect for it. Nick is the ideal mix," said Kirwan, who has coached at three Rugby World Cups with Italy and Japan. "He is highly intelligent, he understands what a team needs to win and he gets the best out of players."
He added: "It will be a high-pressure situation (coaching England) into a home World Cup (in 2015). I think Nick would be a great candidate for the job."
The RFU will be conducting interviews over the next three weeks with a view to making an appointment before the end of the Six Nations.
Lancaster has restored a sense of pride in the national team and his work to clean up the image of English rugby has impressed Twickenham executives.
But one of the key factors the RFU's new chief executive Ian Ritchie must weigh up before making his recommendation to the board is Lancaster's lack of international experience compared with the track record of a potential candidate like Mallett or O'Sullivan.
Lancaster has been in charge for three Tests - two dogged away wins against Scotland and Italy followed by a home defeat to Wales, where the disappointment of the result was eased by an encouraging performance.
England still have France and Ireland to play.