Blossoms need to bloom at home

TOKYO • Incoming Japan head coach Jamie Joseph wants more Brave Blossom internationals to return home and play for the fledgling Super Rugby outfit the Sunwolves ahead of the 2019 World Cup.

The Sunwolves are the only side without a win in Super Rugby after problems forming a roster, with nine of the squad who performed so well for Japan at last year's World Cup playing abroad for other clubs.

Joseph will step down as head coach of current champions Otago Highlanders at the end of the season to take charge of Japan and was hopeful more Japanese will follow him with an eye on a competitive showing at their home 2019 World Cup.

"Next year one of my goals is to attract all the Japanese national players around the world back home and play for the Sunwolves," he told Kyodo News.

"I think it is important for our preparation for the World Cup. If we have a Sunwolves team and we don't have the majority of the national team playing for them, it doesn't really serve a purpose for our preparation. So that's a big challenge for us.

"Ideally getting all the guys back to Japan would be good for the team."

The Sunwolves have already lost Samoan fly-half Tusi Pisi, arguably their best player this season, for next year and Joseph, a former All Black who also played for Japan at the 1999 World Cup, said it was up to him to entice players home.

"It's easier to play in Japan, they don't have the language barrier, they're comfortable, they understand everything," he said.

"But they have to be comfortable their rugby is going to improve under the coaching team so that is something I will need to persuade the players. And that they will be part of the national team moving forward."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2016, with the headline 'Blossoms need to bloom at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe