Japan coach Joseph will step down from his Sunwolves role. Photo: Issei Kato/Reuters

TOKYO – Japan head coach Jamie Joseph is set to relinquish control of Super Rugby's Sunwolves to concentrate on the host team's run-in to the 2019 World Cup.

As events took place across Japan on Thursday to mark a year to go before the “Brave Blossoms” face Russia in the tournament's opening game, Joseph revealed he would step down as Sunwolves coach after combining both roles last season.

The New Zealander will, however, preserve close ties between the Tokyo-based side and the national team.

“I won't be coaching the Sunwolves next year, but I will be involved in appointing the coaches,” the former All Black told local media. “Next year we need to be peaking in September, certainly not February when the Super Rugby competition starts,” added Joseph.

“You can expect a number of our players will not be participating at the start of the Super Rugby competition with the Sunwolves, but they will start a bit later in the season.”

Japan, on Thursday, marks one year to go to the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Issei Kato/Reuters
Japan, on Thursday, marks one year to go to the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Photo: Issei Kato/Reuters

Joseph's decision means the Sunwolves will appoint a fourth head coach in their fourth season since joining Super Rugby.

Assistant coach Tony Brown has been tipped to take over, which would mirror his promotion to the Highlanders job in 2017 after Joseph's departure. 

Joseph took over the Sunwolves role after the team had endured a torrid first two seasons in Super Rugby, posting just three wins.

He led them to three victories this year, but the team still finished with the wooden spoon despite signs of improvement.

Subscribe to the IOL Sport Newsletter!

“That's why Super Rugby is good for our players,” insisted Joseph. 

“It's a really intensive competition. If we can get used to that in another year's time we will put ourselves in a really good position.”

Agence France-Presse (AFP)