WORCESTER Warriors head coach Rory Duncan is being linked with a return to Cheetahs – less than 12 months after leaving the PRO14 outfit.

According to Afrikaans-language weekly newspaper Rapport, Duncan is in the running to become Cheetahs' next head coach.

The speculation comes after it was revealed that Franco Smith who is in charge of Cheetahs had been approached to become Italy boss following the Rugby World Cup.

Rapport reported that South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus had been drafted in to assist Cheetahs in identifying possible candidates.

Duncan starred for the Bloemfontein club as captain before joining their coaching team in 2014. He was appointed director of rugby in 2015 before becoming head coach in 2017 ahead of their first season in Pro 14.

The 41-year-old who previously played under Erasmus at Cheetahs was replaced by Smith in the summer after agreeing to join Warriors.

But he is now rumoured to be on a shortlist that features Maties coach Hawies Fourie to re-join Cheetahs.

Since arriving at Sixways Duncan has helped Worcester reach the knockout stages of the Premiership Cup and European Challenge Cup.

But Duncan and boss Alan Solomons have struggled to change Warriors’ Gallagher Premiership fortunes as they sit seven points above the drop zone with three games remaining.

Speaking to the Worcester News in October Duncan said he and his family had settled in the area and spoke of his desire to be at Warriors for the long run.

“We are in a house not too far down the road from here and the kids are in good schools,” Duncan said.

“My wife is enjoying life in Worcester so it has been good.

“I would like to be here for a while.

“With my personality when I commit to something I like to see it through.

“If we look at the youngsters coming through the academy system we have got some really exciting talent and if we can develop that and bring them through then I believe the future of the club is very healthy.”