All Blacks coaching contender Tony Brown has revealed he has turned down approaches from both Ian Foster and Scott Robertson to join their respective coaching teams as both vie to replace Steve Hansen.
The former All Blacks first-five and Japan national assistant coach has created a strong reputation for his work with first the Highlanders, where he teamed up with Jamie Joseph to help them to a Super Rugby title, and then with Japan, also under Joseph, where he was part of the coaching team who took them to a historic quarter-final appearance at the Rugby World Cup.
That led to interest from both Foster and Robertson for Brown to link up with them as they take their shot at the All Blacks head coaching role.
As first reported by the Herald, both Foster and Robertson approached Brown to form an integral part of their coaching team - but Brown revealed tonight that he has turned them both down, and will stick with Joseph, regardless of his next move.
Brown told the Breakdown on SKY that if Joseph stayed with Japan, he would remain as an assistant coach.
"It just didn't feel right to be the guy who's floating around between three different coaches to potentially get the job. It felt right to stick with Jamie and what we've been doing for the last eight years.
"It was a massive decision. 100 per cent I want to coach the All Blacks tomorrow. But it didn't feel right floating between three different coaching teams where I don't get a say."
Brown said that if Joseph applies for the All Blacks' job, he will be on his coaching team, though said he wasn't certain that Joseph would apply.
"I made a decision I'm going to stay with Jamie. If he applies for the All Blacks, I'm in. If he stays with Japan, I'm in.
"Jamie puts together a great team and we're all trying to make the team better. That's what I like about Jamie...everyone's trying to make the team better.
"We both want to coach the All Blacks but we both want to do it at the right time. Whether the right time is now, I hope it is or it may not be, it may be in four years..."
With Brown out of the running for their respective teams, the Herald understands that Robertson may try to coax Ronan O'Gara, a former Irish test star and his assistant at the Crusaders last season, back from France, while Foster is likely to carry Scott McLeod through as his defence specialist.