Joe Schmidt is reportedly a target for the Highlanders.
The Otago based franchise are said to want the current Ireland boss as head coach when his contract with the IRFU comes to an end in 2017.
Highlanders CEO Roger Clark confirmed that Schmidt was one several Kiwis he has contacted with a view to replacing their current coach, Tony Brown, who has signed a contract extension until 2017.
Clark also suggested that coaching the Highlanders, could eventually lead to the All Blacks job. Current New Zealand coach Steve Hansen is expected to remain in place until after the 2019 World Cup.
Clark said: “I’ve gone round and deliberately contacted coaches like Schmidt overseas and talked to all of them to see what their thinking is around coming back to New Zealand and also coaching the Highlanders.
“They’re all looking at the opportunities looking towards 2019. Even though [Steve Hansen] hasn’t committed yet, they know that’s going to be the case. They’re all looking at opportunities towards there.
“They know they’ve got to be coaching Super Rugby and they know there’s not too many options in Super Rugby because we’ve got a number of coaches that are locked in until ’19 now.”