Six Nations test for Lions hopefuls
Warren Gatland, Andy Robinson and Declan Kidney will all effectively be on trial during the forthcoming Six Nations to be head coach of the 2013 British and Irish Lions.
The respective coaches of Wales, Scotland and Ireland are the leading candidates to take charge of next year's 10-match three-Test tour to Australia.
The Lions expect to make the appointment in April, and chief executive John Feehan said: "You don't have to be a genius to work out who the candidates are so from that perspective, we will keep an eye on them and see how well they do (in the Six Nations)."
He added: "All of those people are committed to wanting to do it, which is fantastic. It really comes down to performance now and who we feel will work best.
"Once we have selected the coach, we wouldn't want them involved in the 2013 Six Nations because we would like to take the pressure away from them in terms of results.
"We also want the coach to be able to get access to and contact with all the international players in the different squads. He is not going to be able to do that if he is an active coach.
"We have the support of the Six Nations to do that."
Lions veteran Sir Ian McGeechan will also have an input and he remains a fall-back option should the board fail to be impressed with any of the current home nations coaches despite saying after the 2009 tour to South Africa that he would not take the reins again.
"If we were stuck at the end of the day and we didn't think any of the coaches were appropriate then we might ask Geech to reconsider his position. Lots of people say 'never again'," Feehan said.
"Geech is still a viable option if he so chooses. We haven't had that discussion and probably won't in the event that a candidate makes himself clear. But Geech is probably the best servant the Lions have ever had and we value his views and opinions so he will have an input on where it goes."