Wallabies assistant coach Nathan Grey will also serve as technical director to Super Rugby side Sunwolves next season to help Japan build on a successful World Cup, it was announced Monday.

The highly-regarded 35-Test Wallaby was working as Australia’s defence coach under the now-departed Michael Cheika, but will assume the role of national high-performance coach advisor next year.

In an unprecedented move, Grey will also work with the Sunwolves to support their new head coach Naoya Okubo under an agreement with the Japan Rugby Football Union.

“Nathan’s role with the Sunwolves came out of discussions with the JRFU and the support they felt they needed to continue to grow,” said Australian director of rugby Scott Johnson.

“We’re really proud of the relationship we have with the JRFU and we’ve been looking at new ways in how we can collaborate to achieve our respective goals across the business but specifically in high performance.”

Super Rugby’s governing body SANZAAR announced this year it would be axing the underperforming Sunwolves following the 2020 season as the competition reverts from a 15-team conference system back to a 14-team round-robin format.

But Japan’s success at the World Cup on home soil, where they made the quarter-finals, has seen some suggestions that they may get a reprieve.

“The Sunwolves have an incredibly talented group of players that are keen to learn, and the same can be said of the coaching staff in Tokyo too,” said Grey.

“We all saw from the recent World Cup just how much ability and potential there is in Japan, and I will be doing all I can to help in their development.”

Under his new Australian rugby role, Grey will work with the men’s and women’s Sevens program as well as the Wallaroos and junior Wallabies.

Former Queensland Reds’ Matt Taylor is tipped to replace him as Wallabies defence coach as new head coach Dave Rennie builds his own team of assistants.

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