The Highlanders will be without Tony Brown for Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, with the coach to link up with Japan as they prepare to face the British & Irish Lions.
Brown will return to the Brave Blossoms set-up to work with compatriot Jamie Joseph and will need to quarantine for two weeks, before Japan face the Lions at Edinburgh's Murrayfield on June 26.
But that means Brown will be absent for the six week Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, leaving assistant Clarke Dermody in charge of the team.
But Brown will have input into the running of the Highlanders side, albeit remotely.
"Having to head to Japan earlier than expected is disappointing, particularly leaving my team before the end of the season,” says Brown. “It's not what anyone would have wanted.
"I will be in touch with Clarke and the other coaches on a daily basis, and I am positive they will respond well to the situation.
"Even though the Lions match has only recently been finalised, it's unfortunate that the Japanese preparation has been so limited. We will need to go into an intense camp almost immediately to get organised."
In Brown's absence, Highlanders talent development coach Kane Jury will join Dermody's coaching team.
The Highlanders open the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition against the Reds in Dunedin on May 14.
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