Gregor Townsend admitted this could be his last Six Nations as Scotland head coach as he confirmed he has had no talks about extending his contract beyond the end of this year.
It has been widely speculated recently that the 49-year-old – who took the reins in the summer of 2017 – will be leaving his post after the World Cup in the autumn.
After naming his 40-man squad for the Six Nations on Tuesday, Townsend admitted it was at the back of his mind that he could be leading his country into the tournament for the last time
“Yes, absolutely. I’m not contracted beyond this year so of course (it could be the last),” he said.
“I don’t think it will change anything though because the Six Nations is such a big tournament and there’s so much work that goes in for me and the other coaches.”
Asked if he would like to have his future sorted out before the World Cup, Townsend said: “Yes, of course. But we’ll just have to wait and see. No discussions have been had and I don’t see them taking place until after the Six Nations.”
Reports in France claimed Townsend had applied for a role as assistant coach with the French national team, while he was recently linked with the head coach vacancy at Leicester.
“I did get a contact from France, but it was just an initial enquiry and there was nothing further from that because we obviously play France in the Six Nations so I didn’t want to talk any further with them about that,” he said.
“Nothing about Leicester. I read that with some surprise. Most of the things I’ve read are speculation.”
Townsend does not believe uncertainty over his future will have any adverse effects on his team this year.
“No, I think it will be the last thing on the players’ minds,” he said. “We have a really important year of rugby for the national team. The Six Nations is a massive part of that, the World Cup is obviously huge.
“So much work has to go in for these five games that nothing else really comes into anybody’s thoughts. It is such an intense period for us and we have to be on it for that seven weeks to bring the best out of our team, and our players know that as well.”