Australian Glenn Morrison is in the running to coach the Kiwis after being unveiled as one of four shortlisted candidates for the vacant role by New Zealand Rugby League.
Aside from Morrison, a well-travelled former NRL second-rower who recently switched to coaching, three former Kiwis are in line for the role.
Stephen Kearney will be hoping to retain the job, but an NZRL appointments panel will also interview David Kidwell and Richie Blackmore over the next week.
The quartet were deemed the pick of 14 candidates after applications closed on Friday.
Morrison ended a 16-year professional career in 2011 after stints with Balmain, North Sydney, North Queensland and Parramatta in the NRL, followed by contracts with English clubs Bradford and Wakefield.
He is coaching English second division club the Dewsbury Rams.
Kearney's tenure began in 2008, when he guided New Zealand to World Cup success in Brisbane. His most recent result was a heavy loss to Australia in last November's World Cup final in Manchester.
Kidwell is an assistant coach at the Wests Tigers, following a three-year stint on the coaching staff at the Melbourne Storm.
Blackmore has been a co-coach of New Zealand Maori and has tasted success at domestic level.
NZRL chief executive Phil Holden says the decision to make the job contestable wasn't an indictment on Kearney's performance.
"He has helped raise this programme to a higher level than it was when he arrived," Holden said.
"But we were obliged to advertise this role once his contract expired and saw it as an opportunity to see who else was in the marketplace.
"It's also an opportunity to scope out a succession plan - who can we begin developing as future Kiwis coaches?"
The candidates will be interviewed by an appointment panel comprising Holden, three NZRL board members - chairman Scott Carter, former Kiwis player Iva Ropati and former Kiwis manager Ray Haffenden - NZRL high performance manager Tony Iro, and High Performance Sport NZ coaching consultant and world champion Black Sox softball coach Eddie Kohlhase.
A recommendation is due in mid-February, 10 weeks ahead of the Kiwis' Anzac Test against Australia on May 2.
The appointment process is running alongside a review of last year's World Cup campaign.