He’s in for the long haul

Highlanders head coach Tony Brown will be around for the whole season this time.

Brown missed the Super Rugby Transtasman competition last year.

He is contracted to Japan, and left after Super Rugby Aotearoa to help head coach Jamie Joseph with the Brave Blossoms for their international against the British and Irish Lions in July.

Japan’s next assignment is a couple of tests against France in July so, unless there is a major change to Super Rugby Pacific, Brown’s Japanese obligations will not impact on his role with the Highlanders.

Changes are expected, though.

The Super Rugby Pacific draw is unworkable given the current obligations on people entering New Zealand to isolate for a week.

A revised draw was expected to be released this week but nothing has materialised yet.

"We talk about it a little bit — you know, the what-ifs," Brown said.

"We’ve got a draw but potentially that is not going to go ahead and then there are another couple of scenarios being thrown around."

All the Highlanders could do was "make sure when the draw does come out we’re ready to go".

"I don’t know what that draw will be, but if [the border restrictions] stay as they are at the moment, potentially we’ll just run the same as we ran last year.

"But I think that is down the list. With some help from the Government, we’ll probably do something different."

There was some talk when Brown left midway through the Highlanders season last year that assistant Clarke Dermody would assume more responsibility in 2022.

But Brown, who is contracted with the Highlanders until the end of the season, is focused on finishing his stint strongly then helping Japan’s World Cup bid.

"I feel as though we coach well together," he said when asked about the division of duties with Dermody.

"For me, he is doing an amazing job around his job as the forwards coach and being really innovative and smart around how he coaches those guys, and that is a massive role.

"And I guess he is my 2IC around helping me making sure the environment is working really well."


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