Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has revealed the reason behind his decision to turn down a position with the All Blacks in favour of sticking with the Brave Blossoms.

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Joseph has returned from Japan to his family in New Zealand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc worldwide, five months after he rejected the opportunity to join the All Blacks’ coaching race.

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Both he and long-term assistant coach Tony Brown were contenders to join the All Blacks’ coaching staff after incumbent head coach Steve Hansen left the post following his side’s semi-final defeat to England at the World Cup in Japan last year.

At that same World Cup, Joseph and Brown led Japan to their most successful campaign ever, winning all four of their pool games – including upset victories over Ireland and Scotland – to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

The Brave Blossoms’ overwhelming success and compelling style of play caught the eye of many worldwide, with 54 million people in Japan alone tuning in to watch their 28-21 shock win against Scotland.

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Joseph and Brown were credited with the tier two nation’s remarkable rise to final eight of the global tournament, and were considered frontrunners alongside the likes of Ian Foster, Scott Robertson and Dave Rennie to succeed Hansen.

However, Joseph declined an invitation sent out by New Zealand Rugby to apply for the All Blacks role in November, instead signing a contract extension with the Japan Rugby Football Union through until the 2023 World Cup in France.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times from his Dunedin home, Joseph revealed that his loyalty to Japan was what ultimately kept him and Brown at the helm of the Brave Blossoms.

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“The decision was really difficult,” he said. “In hindsight, I feel that the landscape for coaches overseas has really changed, there’s a lot of New Zealand coaches that are coaching all over the world, and the process in New Zealand didn’t really allow me to consider it seriously enough.

“What I mean by that is, applying for a job and applying for a job at the same time you’re applying for another job doesn’t show much loyalty.

“I guess one of those values that we [Joseph and Tony Brown] learned at Otago back in the day when we were coming up through the ranks was loyalty is a big factor, just because it is professional, for me it’s really important.”

Although he ruled himself out of the running for All Blacks contention last year – in a race that was eventually won by Hansen’s former assistant Foster – Joseph conceded that it is a position he would be interested in pursuing in the future.

“We just sort of stuck together and kept it simple and just decided our time wasn’t ready and we’ll go back to Japan, finish the job and then, if that opportunity is there next time round, or we’re good enough to actually contend again, maybe that’s the time.”

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