Byline: JEFF CONNOR
SCOTLAND's interim coach Frank Hadden will be asked to extend his trial period in charge of the national side with the three autumn tests offering him a make-orbreak opportunity to land the job on a permanent basis.
It was expected that the Edinburgh coach would be named as fulltime Scotland chief some time this week.
But it seems that the new SRU chief executive Gordon McKie, and president Andy Irvine, want more proof that Hadden is the right man for a post which has been vacant since the sacking of Matt Williams in the spring.
Hadden, who has applied officially, can point to a 100-percent record as a stand-in with wins over the Barbarians and Romania earlier this year.
But both McKie and Irvine are adamant that they must find the right long-term candidate, however long that takes, following the illfated Williams regime.
Wins over a makeshift touring side and one of the worst rugby nations in Europe plainly do not provide that evidence.
The autumn tests, against Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand will certainly provide a more relevant examination of Hadden's credentials and his chances may now even depend on a good performance against the All Blacks.
There is also a powerful lobby at Murrayfield that the job should be given to Borders coach Steve Bates, who has performed admirably on an ultra-tight budget.
On Friday, his side lost 9-7 at mighty Munster, a remarkable result in the context of the relative resources of both Celtic League teams and one that should strengthen Bates' case.
The original notion that the national job should go to a nativeborn candidate - Hadden or Glasgow's Hugh Campbell - also appears to have been diluted, with both McKie and Irvine insisting recently that a non-Scot with the right qualifications should not be discounted.
Bates, born in Wales but raised in England where he enjoyed a successful coaching spell at Newcastle Falcons, would certainly fall into that category, as would former Italy coach John Kirwan, who has also sent his CV to Murrayfield.
McKie was unavailable f o r comment last night but an SRU source said: 'There was certainly a feeling two or three months ago that Frank should have a more extended period to show what he could do and that the autumn tests would provide that opportunity. …