Tokyo - Japan coach Jamie Joseph wants to forget the
country's astonishing 2015 Rugby World Cup run as he looks to create his own
blueprint for the future.
The former All Black had a baptism of fire after taking over
the 'Brave Blossoms' last November and is under no illusion over the size of
his task before Japan host rugby's showcase event in 2019.
"What's important now is we leave the World Cup
behind," Joseph told reporters on Thursday.
"We can't keep talking about 2015. I'm not sure any other
team in professional sport talks about things that happened two years ago.
"The first three months was quite hectic but I'm
starting to build a plan to see us going forward."
Key to that plan will be closer ties to Japan's Sunwolves,
with Joseph insisting he wants his World Cup squad members to be playing for
the Super Rugby team.
"In a perfect world we would have our players
together," he said. "In 2019 the players we're looking at need to be
involved with the Sunwolves."
Japan, who lit up the 2015 World Cup by winning three
matches under Eddie Jones, failed to build on that momentum as Joseph first saw
out his contract with the Highlanders before assuming control.
Joseph subsequently had a rude welcome as head coach as
Japan were thrashed 54-20 by Argentina in November before a close win over
Georgia and defeats by Wales and Fiji on their winter tour of Europe.
"After a very good World Cup expectations were very high
but in reality the team had been in limbo for eight months," said Joseph,
whose side welcome Ireland for two fixtures in June before home tests against
Australia and France in November.
"Effectively it was left with part-time coaches, which
is not the best way. That was what I walked into."
Despite giving Wales a fright in a 33-30 defeat in Cardiff,
Japan were beaten 38-25 by Fiji a week later, underlining their inconsistency.
"Against Wales we showed glimpses of the type of rugby
we want to play going forward," said Joseph. "But the Fiji match left
a sour taste in my mouth."
The 47-year-old also warned that Japan's World Cup success
under Jones, which included a jaw-dropping victory over South Africa, is
unlikely to be repeated without significant changes to the way the local game
"A player like (captain) Shota Horie played pretty much
every game of the Super Rugby competition last year, he plays Top League, Test
matches for Japan," said Joseph of the physical demands on Japan's senior
"You simply can't do that, it's not sustainable. The
current structure we have for our best players isn't working - not if we want
to be a top-eight team."
Like Jones before him, Joseph sees the Sunwolves as vital to
the development of the Japan team.
"Super Rugby is the competition we're going to utilise
to get our players up to speed," he said. "It's time to roll the