New Zealand Rugby is telling Japan’s new Super Rugby franchise to hurry up and appoint a coach as speculation mounts the role will go to a high-profile Kiwi.
Reports have indicated that Japan-based former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has been sounded out to coach the Sunwolves for their inaugural campaign.
Former Hurricanes head coach Mark Hammett has also been linked with the job while Fiji’s New Zealand coach John McKee has reportedly turned down an approach.
NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says it is important the role is filled quickly for the credibility of both the Sunwolves and the expanded 18-team competition.
“The biggest worry is that they are yet to appoint a coach. That’s the most pressing problem and we’re told that that will be resolved before Christmas,” Tew said.
“Clearly that’s already too late.”
When the Sunwolves were awarded the franchise, then-Japanese coach Eddie Jones was to be the director of rugby. However, the Australian left his position to become Stormers and then England head coach.
Negative publicity has also surrounded South Africa’s sixth team, the Southern Kings, while Argentina’s inaugural entry, Los Jaguares, have reportedly met all deadlines and are expected to mount a strong first-up campaign.
Tew says there are some positive signs emerging out of Japan, including an improved player roster, a strong commercial programme and sound venue.
“Until we see the competition in play, we won’t be sure.
“The Japanese are working very hard to get up to speed and my South African colleagues continue to assure me that the Kings will be fine.”