The Australian Rugby Union have confirmed they will interview New Zealander Robbie Deans for the vacant national-team coaching job.
The former All Black, who was overlooked for the New Zealand coaching job in favour of incumbent Graham Henry, has formally expressed interest in the Wallabies position after being sought out by the ARU's high-performance manager Pat Howard.
Deans will be interviewed by the selection panel early this week.
An announcement on the new coach is expected by Friday, with Crusaders boss Deans, who has the backing of ARU boss John O'Neill, a clear favourite.
High-profile radio broadcaster Alan Jones, Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie, Brumbies boss Laurie Fisher, Auckland's David Nucifora and Wallabies assistant coach John Muggleton are the other candidates.
If Deans does win the role, he will become the first non-Australian to coach the Wallabies.
The ARU's deputy CEO Matt Carroll defended the decision to go outside the normal procedure to allow Deans a shot at the job.
"We want the best candidates to be considered by the board and now the circumstances have changed it would be foolish - and the Australian public wouldn't accept it - if we didn't try and find the best candidates," Carroll said.
"Robbie Deans, who without a doubt is one of the best qualified rugby coaches going around, had previously expressed interest in the job so we're simply saying let's move this along.
"His coaching record is outstanding (and) we make no apology for seeking the best candidate for the Australian Wallabies."
The ARU's decision to chase Deans after he was overlooked by the All Blacks has been criticised, but again Carroll made no apologies.
"We want to get back to our winning ways and we need the success," he declared.
"(We need) the best man for the job and if people are upset by that then I'm terribly sorry but that's the way it has to be."
Carroll added Deans' nationality was irrelevant if he turned out to be the best candidate for the job.
"Rugby as a professional sport is maturing. Coaches will coach different national teams over the years," Carroll said.
"It's already happening in Wales."
If Deans is successful, he will be permitted to coach the Crusaders in next year's Super 14 competition before turning his attention to the Wallabies.
Australia have been without a coach since John Connolly stood down following the Wallabies' disappointing World Cup campaign.