Harlequins: Paul Gustard and Shaun Edwards in frame for head coach role

Paul Gustard during an England coaching session
Paul Gustard (centre) appeared as a flanker for Leicester, London Irish and Saracens during his playing career

England defence coach Paul Gustard has emerged as a contender for the head coach role at Harlequins.

Gustard is understood to have been interviewed for the position at the Premiership club, along with Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards.

Harlequins are re-structuring their coaching set-up following the departure of director of rugby John Kingston.

Both Gustard and Edwards are contracted with their respective national unions until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Gustard, 42, joined the England coaching staff under Eddie Jones at the start of 2016, helping the side to back-to-back Six Nations titles before a fifth-placed finish earlier this year.

But despite England's drop in form it would be a major surprise if he were to leave the Rugby Football Union with the World Cup in Japan just over a year away.

Meanwhile, Edwards, 51, has been an ever-present part of Warren Gatland's Wales staff since 2008, but admitted in February he would "be open to offers" if a head coach job came his way.

The pair are believed to be on a shortlist of candidates, with Quins looking to appoint a head coach to run rugby matters on the field.

The process is understood to be nearing a conclusion, with sources stressing there are still as many as five individuals in contention, including former England and Fiji sevens coach Ben Ryan.

Harlequins, who finished 10th in the Premiership table, are also set to appoint a management figure who will deal with issues such as contracts and recruitment, but would not be involved in the day-to-day coaching.

The RFU and WRU declined to comment on Gustard and Edwards' respective positions when contacted by the BBC.

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