CONNACHT will continue to accept applications to succeed Eric Elwood as head coach until December 1, after which a shortlist will be determined and interviewed.
The Branch yesterday announced that they already have 40 submissions for the position, including some from coaches with international experience.
A four-man committee – comprising Connacht CEO Tom Sears, Connacht Professional Games Board members Conor McGuinness and Steve Cunningham, and a representative of the IRFU – have been charged with identifying and appointing Elwood's successor.
A joint ticket of current forwards and backs coaches Dan McFarland and Bill Millard remain strong contenders.
McFarland is a former prop with the province (he also played for Richmond) and was on Michael Bradley's coaching ticket during his time in the West.
Millard is a former Australian Sevens coach and also coached for three seasons at Cardiff Blues prior to joining Elwood's staff in 2011. He is in the second year of a two-year contract. This double act would be a popular choice among the players and supporters.
Former Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan is also believed to be in the frame, while former Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin's name has also been floated, as has Munster forwards coach (and Ireland defence coach) Anthony Foley's.
Sears is delighted with the response so far.
"Just as important as the qualities and track record of the applicants will be their understanding of what Connacht Rugby is all about," he said.
"They have to be the right person as well as the right coach for us. They have to share our ambition and be able to deliver it and to do that they have to appreciate what makes Connacht a special place and buy into everything that Connacht means."
Meanwhile, there is no Irish representative among the nominees announced for IRPA Try of the Year 2012 Award. Hosea Gear and Julian Savea (both New Zealand), Bryan Habana (South Africa) and Julien Malzieu (France) have all been nominated for the honour.
The quartet of tries was selected by a panel of All Blacks Test centurion Mils Muliaina, South Africa's Try of the Year 2009 winner Jaque Fourie, former IRB Player of the Year Shane Williams and Japan's Daisuke Ohata, the leading try scorer in Test rugby.
The winner will be announced on Thursday, November 29.
2010 – Chris Ashton (England v Australia)
2009 – Jaque Fourie (South Africa v Lions)
2008 – Brian O'Driscoll (Australia v Ireland)