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23:08 20 January 2016

Rugby: JRFU expected to announce Joseph's move to Japan

By Rich Freeman
TOKYO, Jan. 20, Kyodo

The Japan Rugby Football Union is expected to announce Jamie Joseph as Japan's next head coach on Thursday, a JRFU source said Wednesday night.

The Otago Daily Times told Kyodo News earlier on Wednesday that Super Rugby champions the Highlanders have called a press conference for Thursday afternoon (around 9.30 a.m. JST), at which CEO Roger Clark is expected to announce that Joseph, a former New Zealand and Japan international, will leave the franchise at the end of the season to take on the Japan job.

The 46-year-old Joseph, who played for Sanix Blues from 1995 to 2000 and has been the Highlanders coach since 2011, has been the JRFU's No. 1 choice to replace Jones since the beginning of December. However, the two parties have struggled to agree on financial terms, with Joseph contracted to the Highlanders until August.

The JRFU source said if all goes as planned, Joseph will take over at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.

A break in the Super Rugby season would also allow Joseph to coach the Brave Blossoms against Scotland on June 18 and 25, though quite how he would have any input on the team picked is unclear.

Kyodo News has learned a foreigner will be in charge of the national team when it goes into camp, but no announcement has been made as to who.

There is also no word on whether Joseph's current assistants -- former Panasonic Wild Knights flyhalf Tony Brown and ex-Toshiba Brave Lupus center Scott McLeod -- would also be heading back to Japan.

When asked by Kyodo News to comment on the news surrounding Joseph and his assistants, Sunwolves head coach Mark Hammett said, "I haven't heard anything."

Earlier in the week, a JRFU spokesman said he expected an announcement to be made at the end of the month or the beginning of February. But depending on what is said at the press conference in New Zealand, an official announcement is now expected on Thursday when the JRFU holds a board meeting.

==Kyodo

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