Japan coach and former All Black Jamie Joseph will stand down as head coach of the Sunwolves in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup.
Joseph is the third coach of the new and struggling Super Rugby franchise in as many years following the departures of Mark Hammett and Filo Tiatia. Tony Brown, Joseph's assistant, will be in the frame to succeed him but he was unwilling to take over as head coach of the Highlanders following Joseph's departure there.
Joseph told a press conference which marked one year to go until the Brave Blossoms play Russia in the World Cup match in Tokyo: "I won't be coaching the Sunwolves next year, but I will be involved in appointing the coaches."
The 48-year-old New Zealander said: "Some of my staff will be involved with the Sunwolves.
"What has always been challenging has been giving our national players the opportunity to play Super Rugby without giving them too much rugby," he said.
"Next year we need to be peaking about now, in September, and certainly not in February when the Super Rugby competition starts, so you can expect a number of our players will not be participating at the start of the Super Rugby competition with the Sunwolves. But they will start a bit later in the season."
Joseph took over the side in 2018 after Mark Hammett led them in their inaugural season and Filo Tiatia took over in 2017.
The Sunwolves got three victories this past season – their most successful yet. But they still finished bottom of the table.