2019 Rugby World Cup: All Blacks manager Darren Shand plots title defence

As the people of Tokyo go about their business, the 2019 Rugby World Cup looms large, with signs starting to pop up all over the busy city.

Time is running out for teams to be ready and long-serving manager Darren Shand is confident the All Blacks are almost there, thanks largely to their two-week stay last year.

For Kiwis, the Rugby World Cup will undoubtedly be biggest event of the sporting year and while the players are on holiday before a big season, there's plenty to do behind the scenes, as Shand tries to give them their best shot at success.

"I think we had a few fears and we've probably allayed most of those," he told Newshub. "We left in better spirits and a better sense of anticipation about how good it could be."

From hotels to transport to training grounds, Shand's now confident they're logistically ready for pool play.

There have even been unexpected wins with local organisers softening their stance on players bearing tattoos. In Japan, body art is often aligned with the Yakuza crime syndicates.

"There's probably a greater degree of flexibility around dealing with some of those things," said Shand. "That was quite surprising, because on previous visits, that was a lot more rigid."

Shand said the local organising committee started slowly, but has made great ground by bringing in staff with World Cup experience.

But there are things the Japan World Cup could throw up that most hosts wouldn't have to consider. While the condition of grounds and facilities shouldn't be a problem, the weather conditions have the potential to cause one, especially early in the tournament.

The event starts in September, which is typhoon season. Last year, Typhoon Jebi alone caused billions of dollars of damage.

Back-up stadiums, training grounds and hotels have been organised just in case.

"Japanese public and the Japanese authorities have been dealing with them every year," said World Cup international communications manager Nicholas van Santen.

"They get back up and running pretty much instantaneously on the back of a typhoon."

A veteran of three World Cup campaigns, Shand has enough on his plate without worrying about typhoons. He will return to Japan next month for reconnaissance on the All Blacks' playoff options.

The quarter-final possibilities alone are a headache.

"We could have four potential places that we're staying at," he said. "We just need to know all of those and be able to react within 24 hours, and move in so that it's seamless for everybody."

No matter how well organised you are, some aspects of the 2019 Rugby World Cup will keep even the best on their toes.