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The Highlanders' prodigal son returns

NEWS: They say lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but that is exactly what the Highlanders will be hoping for with the return of one of their most successful coaches.

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It was revealed that Jamie Joseph is returning to Highlanders’ headquarters on a four-year deal.

In what is widely regarded as something of a masterstroke, the storied former Highlanders coach will return to the Dunedin-based franchise to take up a newly created position as Head of Rugby in the early part of 2024.

The role involves leading the entire Highlanders programme, including recruitment and retention of players, supporting the coaching group and mentoring the head coach.

Joseph originally joined the franchise as a coach in 2011 from Wellington, where he coached the capital city side to their first Ranfurly Shield win in 26 years.

In 2015 he famously led the Highlanders to its one and only Super Rugby victory, before moving to Japan in 2017 to lead the Brave Blossoms World Cup programme.

The 2019 World Cup in Japan was a phenomenal success under his guidance and the home team captured the imagination of rugby followers around the world and ignited the tournament for the hosts.

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Playing a fast-paced, high-skilled style of rugby that delivered a quarterfinals spot for the first time in their history, while taking victories against Ireland and Scotland along the way, before falling to the eventual World Cup Champions, South Africa, in the quarterfinal.

The appointment has been welcomed by the Highlanders Chairman Peter Kean.

“I think we can count ourselves as very fortunate to have attracted a candidate of the calibre of Jamie to the role,” Kean said.

His accomplishments with the Highlanders and then in Japan have seen him become a sought-after coach in world rugby. ”

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“His experience will no doubt significantly boost our rugby programme and young coaching team.”

Joseph is looking forward to a return to his hometown.

* (Article continues below the Jamie Joseph interview …)

“I view the role as a great opportunity to give back to the franchise and the region that means so much to me,” Joseph said.

“I did my study at the University of Otago, played for Otago and my family have enjoyed being raised and schooled in Dunedin.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time as coach of the Highlanders, so I am genuinely excited about returning to the South to offer my services to the franchise in 2024.”.

Joseph will be able to draw on his past experiences of getting the best out of a playing group and coaching team.

“I guess there are some similarities between the Highlanders and Japan.

“nWhen I first started with theHighlanders they were on a bit of a lean run but over time we were able to connect with the community and put together a successful team and coaching group.

“I can see no reason why that cannot be repeated.

“It was a bit the same when I first came to Japan, I knew we would have to galvanise the public behind the Brave Blossoms for the World Cup tournament to be a real success inJapan.

“The key to that was always going to be a lot of hard work and a team playing a brand of rugby that folks could be proud of and excited by.”

Head coach Clarke Dermody views the appointment as a step in the right direction.

“Whilst this a new position for the franchise it is common in other parts of the world,” Clarke said.

“I see enormous value in having a proven and experienced world class coach like Jamie leading the overall rugby programme.

“The advice and direction he will bring is exciting from my perspective, I believe this is a positive step by the franchise and I am looking forward to working with him again.”

New Zealand Rugby Manager of Professional Rugby Simon Simmers said: “To have someone of Jamie’s vast experience not only return to New Zealand but commit long-term to the Highlanders and New Zealand Rugby is a real coup.

“His extended commitment is indicative of the immense passion and care he has for the wider Highlanders’ region and his desire to see the franchise prosper.

“Jamie is widely recognised as one of the most astute coaching minds in the game and we have no doubt he will influence and enhance the strength of rugby down south and further connect theHighlanders to their passionate fan base.”

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