Head coach, Jamie Joseph is off to Japan. Joseph (Ngāti Maniapoto, Rangitāne), has officially announced that he will be taking the reins of the Japanese national side, Nipono, from 2017 onwards.
The Japanese had one of the best stories of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and now a Māori is in charge.
“They are hosting the [Rugby] World Cup, and to be involved with the team of the host nation is probably the biggest carrot,” says Joseph.
The Highlanders have revealed head coach, Joseph will leave the franchise at the end of the year to take up the head coaching position of Japan. This comes after months of speculation.
“Well I’ve signed a contract to take me through to the end of the Rugby World Cup in 2019. I wouldn’t have gone if that wasn’t the case,” he says.
Joseph is no stranger to the Japanese rugby scene. He played for club side, Sanix in 1995. Then he received a call to lead the 1999 Rugby World Cup squad.
“You have to be worthy to coach the best team in the world and this is another step towards that and another opportunity and challenge for me” says the coach, of Ngāti Maniapoto and Rangitāne descent.
He led the Māori All Blacks to their first Churchill Cup win in 2006. He returned to the side in 2010 for a further two years at the helm.
Joseph says, “You never leave a job satisfied, and this has been one of my best jobs I’ve had.”
The Super 15 champions now look ahead to next year's coaching team.
“The coach who is coming forward has got a good group of players, he’s got some proactive and passionate owners who want to do good for the Highlanders.”
With Japan set to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the new national coach has a major undertaking ahead.