As the IRFU continue to delay the announcement of a new Ireland scrum coach, it has emerged that none of the three candidates that made the final shortlist are Irish.
The position was advertised shortly after Ireland's embarrassing front-row collapse against England last season. All but three points conceded in the 30-9 Six Nations defeat stemmed from the difficulties faced when first-choice tighthead prop Mike Ross was forced off through injury.
The Irish Independent has learnt that none of the final three names whittled down from the original shortlist are Irish, despite there being a host of experienced Irish international props available.
The newly created 'high performance scrum coach' job was posted by the union on March 20, but the vacancy has still to be filled despite the identification of the area as a major issue by the union.
In March, the IRFU's chief executive Philip Browne said of the role that is expected to embrace all the national academies and school systems: "Appointing a national scrummaging coach is arguably something that we should have done before this."
Leinster scrum coach Greg Feek is already in situ as a consultant with the international team but the IRFU are keen to employ someone to oversee the national development of a scrummaging strategy.
This week national coach Declan Kidney, who has criticised the over-reliance on overseas props in Ireland, refuted suggestions that the delay was harmful.
"Negotiations are ongoing and I'd imagine there'd be something sooner rather than later," he said. "You can fill a slot easily but you have to make sure you fill it with the right person."
It is believed that former Italian international and one-time Scotland scrum coach Massimo Cuttita withdrew his acceptance of the position last summer as he felt the role was ill-defined.
Last night an IRFU spokesperson said: "As we are currently in the middle of the process, it would not be pertinent to comment."