Tony Brown will stick by Jamie Joseph, revealing he has turned down recruitment offers from both Ian Foster and Scott Robertson, as the All Blacks coaching race heats up.
The former international first-five has formed a successful coaching relationship with his former teammate, winning a Super Rugby title with the Highlanders in 2015, then guiding Japan to the knockout stages of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
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The 44-year-old is widely regarded as a revolutionary attack coach, credited for Japan's exciting style of back play during the World Cup.
His coaching pedigree caught the attention of both Foster and Robertson, but on Tuesday, Brown revealed he wanted to remain beside Joseph, regardless of where that would be.
Brown told Sky's Breakdown show that his mind is made up.
"It just didn't feel right to be the guy who's floating around between three different coaches to potentially get the job," Brown said. "It felt right to stick with Jamie and what we've been doing for the last eight years.
"It was a massive decision. One-hundred percent I want to coach the All Blacks tomorrow, but it didn't feel right floating between three different coaching teams, where I don't get a say."
Brown hopes Joseph intends to apply for the vacant All Blacks role, but he is willing to put that aspiration on hold for four years, if sticking with Japan is his preference.
"I made a decision I'm going to stay with Jamie. If he applies for the All Blacks, I'm in - if he stays with Japan, I'm in.
"Jamie puts together a great team and we're all trying to make the team better. That's what I like about Jamie - everyone's trying to make the team better.
"We both want to coach the All Blacks, but we both want to do it at the right time. Whether the right time is now, I hope it is or it may not be - it may be in four years."
New Zealand Rugby will announce the process for selecting the next All Blacks coach on Wednesday.
The candidates for the top job include Joseph, Robertson, Foster and former Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.