September 28, 2018 / 3:57 AM / in 22 days

Rugby-Sunwolves turn to Brown after Joseph focuses on Blossoms

Sept 28 (Reuters) - New Zealander Tony Brown has been named head coach of the Sunwolves for the 2019 Super Rugby season, the Tokyo-based Japanese franchise said on Thursday.

The 43-year-old former flyhalf will replace compatriot Jamie Joseph, who stood down last week to focus on preparing hosts Japan for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Brown, who also succeeded Joseph as coach of the Otago Highlanders in 2017, is the fourth former All Black to lead the Sunwolves in four seasons. Mark Hammett and Filo Tiatia previously held the role.

After leaving the Highlanders, Brown joined the Sunwolves as Joseph’s assistant and took charge of the last three matches of the 2018 campaign when the head coach returned to New Zealand to undergo treatment for back pain.

"It is a great honour to be involved in the Sunwolves coaching team again, as a team and club we felt we made significant improvements both on and off the field in 2018," Brown said in a statement here

“Keeping continuity and building on 2018 is the most important thing for us in 2019.”

The Sunwolves finished bottom of the Super Rugby standings in 2018 with three wins and 13 defeats, and Brown will be periodically required in his other role, as an assistant to Joseph with the Brave Blossoms.

Another Kiwi, Scott Hansen, will be a Sunwolves assistant next season and step up as head coach for the Australian Conference team when Brown is away.

“In a World Cup year my core responsibility is to prepare the national team especially as Japan is hosting the tournament,” Joseph said.

“Tony being at the helm as head coach will allow us to continue the hard work we invested last season, as well as prepare any players also in the national team for the World Cup. It is going to be a great year.” (Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)

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