Super Rugby outfit Crusaders have moved their search for a new coach forward as they look to replace Todd Blackadder at the end of the season.
Blackadder, 44, announced late last year that 2016 would be his eighth and last campaign in charge of the team.
Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said they would start looking immediately for a new coach, in a change of plans.
"While we originally signalled that we would wait until the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season to start the process, it has been agreed between myself and the board that it would be advantageous to open the application process now," he said.
"It has always been our intention to keep this process from becoming a distraction to the 2016 campaign, and after discussions with the current coaching and management team we feel assured that we can manage that risk, while also being able to better plan for the 2017 season if we bring this appointment process forward."
Crusaders chairman Grant Jarrold added: "We want to allow the best opportunity for the best applicants to put themselves forward for this job, and we are also mindful of creating as much certainty as possible for those currently involved with the team.
"We are excited to announce that an open and contestable process to appoint our next BNZ Crusaders head coach will begin immediately."
Crusaders are fourth in the Australasian Group in the Super Rugby standings after five wins in six games.