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England are in danger of missing out on a chance to hire Warren Gatland after the Rugby Football Union admitted Eddie Jones' successor would not be hired until after the World Cup.
Jones is under contract with England until 2021 but has hinted he may leave after the World Cup in Japan later this year.
There is a reported break clause enabling Jones and the RFU to part ways if England fail to reach the World Cup semi-finals.
But, according to acting RFU chief executive Nigel Melville, next year's tour to Japan is the organisation's preferred for the incoming coach, with Jones taking charge of the 2020 Six Nations before departing.
While the RFU ponder their options, France and the British and Irish Lions are chasing Gatland, who recently clinched a third Grand Slam as Wales boss as he led them to the Six Nations title.
Gatland is due to leave Wales after the World Cup, but Melville insists the New Zealander's availability is not on the RFU's radar.
"The Warren thing - is Warren going to do the Lions? Is Warren going to France? Is Warren coming to England? Is Warren doing all sorts?" Melville said.
"At this point that is not a concern to me. The concern to me is what we are doing going forward. There's more than one coach out there who we are looking at.
"I took Warren to Wasps, so I'm quite well aware of his talent. I do speak to Warren. I absolutely understand that he's a very talented guy and has a fantastic resume.
"We will decide what is happening with Eddie post-World Cup. We have got a list of people who we think could take over. It's a small list because there aren't lots of coaches out there who are capable of coaching England."
Reports claim the RFU are drawing up two lists of potential candidates to either replace Jones at the end of the year or be appointed in the summer of 2020 and work under him for a year.
But the RFU, soon to be led by incoming chief executive Bill Sweeney, will not be making any announcements about a coaching change before the World Cup, according to Melville.
"We have pushed it back because we don't want distractions pre-World Cup," he said.
"It's to let Eddie get on with it and to stop people speculating on who is in and who is out and all the rest of it.
"We don't need that, I don't think anybody needs that and the incoming coaches don't need that."
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