Rugby: Why Tony Brown opted for Japan over All Blacks

Assistant coach Tony Brown has no fear turning down the opportunity to work with the All Blacks and stick with Jamie Joseph coaching Japan. 

Brown, who was widely expected to be involved with the All Blacks in 2020, surprised the rugby world when he turned down recruitment offers from New Zealand coaching candidates Ian Foster and Scott Robertson. 

The 44-year-old was in hot demand, widely regarded as a revolutionary attack coach and credited for Japan's exciting style of back play during the World Cup.

But Brown says he's comfortable about the decision to stick with Japan and Joseph, who have formed a successful partnership, winning a Super Rugby title with the Highlanders in 2015, then guiding the 'Brave Blossoms' to the knockout stages of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

"During the World Cup, I had aligned myself with Scott Robertson and Ian Foster and still with Jamie if he decided to have a crack at the [All Blacks] job. So in my mind, I thought whoever got the job I would be involved somewhere as an assistant coach.

"But just after the World Cup, when I got back home and had a few days to think about it, it just did not feel right to be floating between different coaching teams.

"Ultimately, Jamie and I have had a pretty good coaching relationship for eight years, or whatever it is. We understand each other, complement each other. For me, that is the enjoyable thing about coaching, being able to coach the way I want to coach, and Jamie allows me to do that. We get on well together. If I want to continue in the job, it has to be enjoyable.

"A couple of days before he [Joseph] pulled out [of the All Blacks job] we had a catch-up, and he said, 'This is what I am thinking'. "And I was really comfortable with that because deep down that is what I was thinking - the same thing."

Brown added that one major perk of staying with Japan was that he could keep his job as assistant coach of the Highlanders. 

Even though that was a factor in his decision, Brown's love for Japan also played a part. During his playing career, he spent six years playing in Japan with the Sanyo Wild Knights. After he retired, he got his first coaching role with the same team. 

"When you play in Japan for a long period of time you create a great allegiance for the country," he said. 

"Coaching Japan over the All Blacks for me is an exciting challenge.

"I feel like I owe them a lot. Been there since 2004. Love the country and love the people. Anyone who goes to Japan says the people are amazing and they are.

"And I was really comfortable with that because deep down that is what I was thinking - the same thing.

"There is the challenge of coaching Japan, and for us the certainty we were going to get the job.

The All Blacks are expected to name their new head coach on December 12.