Highlanders and Japan assistant coach Tony Brown was honoured to be asked to join the All Blacks coaching staff, but was ultimately comfortable staying loyal with Jamie Joseph.
Brown joked that the All Blacks would remain his second favourite team despite rejecting requests from both Ian Foster and Scott Robertson to join them in their respective bids to become All Blacks head coach late last year.
“(It was an) interesting time but comfortable with what’s happened, obviously wish all the All Blacks coaches all the best, still my second favourite team,” he said.
“I was obviously keen to coach in the All Blacks environment, it’s obviously the best environment in the world so for me it was a bit of an honour to get asked.”
As torn he was by the offers from the All Blacks, Brown’s loyalty to Joseph won out.
Brown and Joseph have coached together at the Highlanders, Sunwolves and Japan since 2014.
They masterminded the Highlanders’ maiden Super title in 2015 and Japan’s historic run to a first Rugby World Cup quarter-final last year.
“Ultimately it was about staying with Jamie Joseph trying to continue what we’ve formed over the last half-a-dozen years,” he said.
“We enjoy coaching together and we feel as though we suit each other’s style and we can build pretty good rugby teams when we get it right.”
“Loyalty is a pretty big thing in rugby and just in general, I feel comfortable with my decision and I’m looking forward to a pretty good season with the Highlanders and then getting over to Japan and seeing what we can do there leading into the next World Cup.”
Promisingly for Highlanders fans, Brown said he was developing a similar partnership with head coach Aaron Mauger.
“We’re very similar around our rugby philosophies,” Brown said.
We’re obviously good mates, I’ve spent a bit of time having a few beers with him when I wasn’t in the Highlanders, when I was coming back.”
“Our kids are a similar age so we spend a lot of time together, talk a lot about footy, naturally we see the same things so it’s quite easy to work with him
“We’re starting to form a pretty good partnership ourselves so it’s pretty exciting for the Highlanders hopefully over the next few years.”