(Tokyo, JPN) - Australia's Eddie Jones emerged as the likely successor to departing Japan coach John Kirwan Friday as reports said he had been recommended by officials and was interested in the job.
The Sankei Sports newspaper said a Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) panel had put forward Jones, who guided Australia to the 2003 World Cup final, as it searches for Kirwan's replacement.
And Jones, who is half-Japanese and is now coaching Japan's Suntory Sungoliath, told the Daily Yomiuri: "I would definitely be interested."
"Getting Japan into the world's top 10 is a big task, but is achievable if everyone works together," he said.
Kirwan, who failed to break Japan's 20-year World Cup win drought at the ongoing tournament in New Zealand, announced on Thursday that he would not seek a new contract when his current deal expires in December.
The former All Black won 31 Tests, lost 22 and drew two with Japan, as he steered them to four consecutive Asian Five Nations titles and their maiden Pacific Nations Cup trophy in July.
But he came in for criticism after Japan's disappointing World Cup, when they lost to France and Tonga and drew with France despite a revamped team packed with foreign-born players.
"It is now up to Suntory's top echelon to decide" if Jones can leave, said the Sports Hochi newspaper.