Rhinos are third from bottom in Betfred Super League with almost a quarter of the season gone, but Hetherington says his priority is to find the right man for the job, rather than make a quick appointment.
Hetherington will fly to Sydney this weekend to conduct face-to-face interviews with potential candidates, leaving Jamie Jones-Buchanan as interim-coach for Friday’s visit of champions St Helens.
Previous boss Richard Agar resigned last week and Hetherington has been “impressed but not surprised” by the calibre of coaches expressing an interest.
“Leeds Rhinos is a top job,” he said.
“The most important aspect of this process is identifying the candidate who best suits what we are looking for, so other issues may well be secondary.
“I had no plans to go to Australia this year and that is the only reason I am going.
“It is all part of the exhaustive process to make sure no stone is left unturned in our search for the best possible candidate.”
Despite his trip Down Under, Hetherington stressed all options are still on the table.
He said: “There is interest from coaches overseas.
“That’s why I am making a short visit to Australia, but there’s also interest from quality coaches in England.
“This is a crucial appointment for the club and the exhaustive process means meeting and interviewing people, rather than taking other people’s recommendations.”
Ex-London Broncos boss Danny Ward, Ryan Carr - the former Featherstone Rovers chief and assistant to Richard Agar at Leeds in 2019 - and Hull KR’s Tony Smith, who was in charge when Leeds won the Grand Final in 2004 and 2007, are among those linked with the vacancy.
But Hetherington stressed: “I have not spoken to a single applicant.
“People have made their interest known so I am aware of interest both at home and overseas.
“I will be meeting up with who I believe could be suitable candidates and there will be a lot of work done beforehand.”
Agar was on a rolling contract and Hetherington confirmed last year the long-term plan was for him to move into another role at the club, with a new head coach being appointed.
Of why he is now starting from scratch, Hetherington said: “We didn’t anticipate having a vacancy in March, or having such a poor start to the season, or losing our head coach.
“This could not have been anticipated, we are where we are and we need to deal with it in the most effective and productive way possible.
“That’s what’s going to happen and in the meantime I can think of nobody better than Jamie Jones-Buchanan to be at the helm.
“He is working tirelessly, along with all the other staff.”
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