Jamie Joseph returns to beloved Highlanders
Former All Black, Japan and Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is set to take on the role of Head of Rugby for the Highlanders team next year.
Joseph's tenure with Japan will end after the Rugby World Cup in France, and he will return to Dunedin to take on a role which sees him responsible for the recruitment and retention of players, supporting the coaching group and mentoring head coach Clarke Dermody.
After leaving the head coaching role in Wellington in 2011, where he saw the Lions to the first Ranfurly Shield success in 26 years, he built the Highlanders in Super Rugby to the point they were champions in 2015. He moved to Japan to coach their Test side in the lead-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup held there.
Japan employed a fast-paced, high-skilled style to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, climbing over Ireland and Scotland in pool play before exiting the tournament at South Africa's hands.
Highlanders chairman Peter Kean said, "We can count ourselves as very fortunate to have attracted a candidate of the calibre of Jamie to the role.
"His accomplishments with the Highlanders, and then in Japan, have seen him become a sought-after coach in world rugby.
"His experience will no doubt be a significant boost to our rugby programme and young coaching team."
The position is a natural fit for Joseph.
He said, "I view the role as a great opportunity to give back to the club and the region that means so much to me. I studied at the University of Otago and played for Otago, and my family have enjoyed being raised and schooled in Dunedin.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time as head coach of the Highlanders, so I am excited about returning to the south to offer my services in 2024."
He said he had spent nearly half his life in Dunedin and was looking forward to returning.
"I don't see myself as being the coach. I see myself as supporting Clarke and the coaches to get the best out of the players and setting up structures within the working environment so they can do that and use my experience to support him in terms of leadership. It's the perfect job."
Dermody said Joseph's role was new for the Highlanders but common in other parts of the rugby world.
"I see enormous value in having a proven and experienced world-class coach like Jamie leading the overall programme. The advice and direction he will bring is exciting from my perspective. This is a positive step by the club, and I am looking forward to working with him again.
New Zealand Rugby's manager of professional rugby, Simon Simmers, said Joseph's appointment was a coup.
"Jamie is recognised as one of the most astute coaching minds in the game, and we have no doubt he will influence and enhance the strength of rugby down south and further connect the Highlanders to their passionate fan base."