• Kyodo, Reuters

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There was mixed news for Japanese rugby from Dunedin, New Zealand, on Thursday as the Highlanders confirmed their coaching staff for the 2017 Super Rugby season.

The bad news is that the Sunwolves will need a new head coach after it was confirmed that Mark Hammett will be returning to New Zealand. He will work as an assistant alongside Scott McLeod under the leadership of new head coach Tony Brown.

Hammett, who is the interim coach for the Brave Blossoms in addition to his Sunwolves role, recently told Kyodo News that he was probably heading back to New Zealand once this year’s Super Rugby competition was over.

The former All Blacks hooker said he felt the Sunwolves role should go to someone working closely with new Japan coach Jamie Joseph so the team could fulfill its role as a development side for the national squad.

Joseph is the current head coach of the Highlanders but will leave in August to take up his new role in Japan.

“All I really want to do is make a contribution to the group from what I have learned over the last few years as a head coach, assist Brownie and Stormy as much as I can, and build on the good work that has already been done,” Hammett said.

“The opportunity to work with the Highlanders is very motivating for me and I am looking forward to it.”

The good news is that former Panasonic Wild Knights star Brown will only be doing the job for a year before returning full time to Japan to work under Joseph from 2018.

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