Joseph to Highlanders? The stars would have to align ...

Jamie Joseph
Jamie Joseph
So Tony Brown is coming back to the Highlanders. That leads to the next question - what about Jamie Joseph?

The Highlanders announced on Thursday the franchise was bringing back Brown into its coaching team next season.

Brown's exact role was not specified and was likely to be sorted out after the current season finishes.

Brown is a fine attacking coach and will no doubt be used in that sphere with the Highlanders in what is shaping up as a new era for the side.

But with Brown coming back from Japan, one also wonders what is happening with the man who led the Highlanders to their only Super Rugby title.

Joseph is contracted to the Japanese national side until the World Cup and after that, who knows where he will be heading?

He left to coach Japan after the 2016 season with the Highlanders.

He coached the Sunwolves in the Super Rugby competition in 2018 but gave up that job after one season to concentrate on preparing Japan for this year's Rugby World Cup, to be played in Japan starting in September.

He has been leaving no stone unturned in his preparation for the side. Japan is set to play four warm-up games before the World Cup, starting against Fiji in Japan on July 27.

If Joseph succeeds in Japan and gets the side through to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, he may have the option of continuing with the Cherry Blossoms.

But with his family based in Dunedin, the temptation to come back home will loom large for Joseph.

Joseph, who turns 50 in November, still has ambitions to coach at a national level for the All Blacks, and may be part of that scene, very much depending on how the All Blacks perform at this year's World Cup. It is a crowded field and although Joseph has disappeared out of the All Blacks picture somewhat, his name is still around the people that matter.

But if the national door does not open, Joseph could come back into the reckoning with the Highlanders.

Although it appears a stretch, and Joseph would only be interested in being a head coach, his expertise would not be overlooked by the Highlanders.

Plenty of water, though, has to flow under that bridge before Joseph wears some Highlanders apparel again.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed yesterday prop Tyrel Lomax is moving to the Hurricanes next season, leaving the Highlanders after two years. The promising tighthead signed a contract through to 2021 with the Highlanders but, showing how loose contracts are, will move to Wellington next season, where his partner has accepted a job.

Highlanders general manager Roger Clark did not return calls yesterday but confirmed Lomax's departure to Stuff.

Brown has signed a three year deal with the Highlanders.

Head coach Aaron Mauger will continue in that role, while the side is due to announce some new players over the next few weeks.

Crusaders and Tasman fullback Will Jordan is believed to be a player in the sights of the Highlanders. Elliot Dixon and Richard Buckman are confirmed as leaving the Highlanders to play in Japan.

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