As he did at the Highlanders, Jamie Joseph is carving a similar perception-altering, ceiling-shattering niche with Japan.
When Joseph guided the Highlanders to their maiden Super Rugby title in 2015, he did so against all odds.
Before that breakthrough success, the southerner's sole championship, few elite players felt the Highlanders would improve their game.
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At a time when the Chiefs and Crusaders dominated and the Hurricanes were never far adrift, the Highlanders sat well down the list of prospective New Zealand franchises.
Other than home-grown talent their squad largely consisted of castoffs inspired to prove others wrong. Under Joseph, they did exactly that.
As they emerged for the second half of their final against the much-fancied Hurricanes in Wellington, Aaron Smith even screamed at his underdog team-mates "they said we couldn't do it".
Joseph has carried this theme to Japan. He has already steered the hosts to World Cup history and Japan's immensely proud nation continues to marvel at their side's ability to defy the odds.
Four years ago the Brave Blossoms stunned South Africa under Eddie Jones, but no one expected them to down double and upset Ireland, ranked No 2 in the world at the time, and Scotland to progress to their first World Cup quarterfinals unbeaten.
This remarkable rise has hoisted Joseph up in global lights, his name already touted as a potential successor to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and England counterpart Jones, though local reports suggest he is close to extending his current tenure.
Joseph is so popular in Japan that crowds part, as if he were royalty, to allow him to walk through Tokyo Station, the busiest in the world.
Why would the Japanese union not move Mount Fuji to retain his services?
While many are only now noting Joseph's credentials, he has been a very astute coach for some time.
Those who know Joseph well describe him as intelligent and tough. He cares deeply for his players, the team and game. He strives to create fresh environments by embracing activities such as gathering kaimoana.
Footage of Joseph this week losing to Japanese hooker Shota Horie at Roshambo, a game of rock, paper, scissors where the winner gets to donk their opponent on the head with a plastic hammer, shows his ability to switch off and relate to his players.
But as Japan's Tongan-born, Christchurch-raised lock Uwe Helu explains, Joseph demands the highest standards too.
"Jamie is a very honest person with what he wants you to work on. He will come straight to you and have a one-on-one meeting. That's the good thing about him. I like coaches that are honest like that," Helu said.
"He makes sure everyone does their job and focuses on themselves.
"Sometimes he's been a mentor coach for us. He shared his experiences with us so we understand what's coming for the next week and the next. He gives us our preparation for how to set our mindset."
Joseph the All Black, and Joseph the coach, is clearly uncompromising, a leader not a follower. He has also learnt to adapt, evolve and soften somewhat over time.
Joseph's wife Mandy is an artist, their four children integral in their lives. His coaching family is intertwined with savvy sidekick Tony Brown, the former playmaker's influence on backlines and attack with the Highlanders and, now, Japan obvious.
In many respects, Joseph and Brown are the perfect foil, the yin and the yang.
Joseph grew up in Blenheim, the son of Jim, a prop from the Marlborough team that held the coveted Ranfurly Shield for two seasons in the early 1970s.
After moving to study physical education majoring in psychology at the University of Otago, he quickly rose to prominence during the province's golden era, playing 86 games in the six years he spent in Dunedin from 1989 which included winning the national championship in '91.
As a rugged lock or loose forward he featured in 20 tests for the All Blacks, clouting many opponents along the way to attending the '95 World Cup but he surprised many when he left New Zealand aged 25 for Japan. He went on to represent the same team he now leads in 10 tests, playing at the '99 World Cup.
Outside the Highlanders and Japan, Joseph's coaching record includes three seasons with Wellington and two famous victories over England with New Zealand Maori.
The secret to his vision with Japan has been to create clear alignment about the style of rugby and athletes required to pull off success within challenging parameters.
Joseph is extremely well prepared but, as he pointed out prior to Japan's final pool victory over Scotland, his three-year vision has not been easy.
"I'd like to remind everybody it hasn't been a fluke," Joseph said in a fiery address after Scotland stoked tensions by suggesting Japan would prefer to skip their final game. "It's been a lot of hard work by a lot of people.
"This team has been in camp for 214 days this year alone. We are an amateur rugby team. What that means is our players when they're in camp with Japan get paid about $100 a day. I'll let you guys do the maths and make the comparisons to other teams."
Joseph is old-school in the sense he demands his forward pack matches it with the best, no matter their size.
Before this tournament he ran his players into the ground during gruelling 16-hour fitness sessions, training them at levels he believes is 20 per cent above test match intensity.
That's why, to a man, Japan are now capable of their relentless, lethal pace and width game.
To this point Japan have already proven their Brighton Miracle, when they stunned the Springboks at the last World Cup, was no one-off.
In their rematch, this time at the quarterfinal stage on Sunday, Joseph could further raise the roof on what anyone previously considered possible from Japan.
The Highlanders know this feeling well too.