Tokyo - Ex-All Black Tony Brown has been named as the new coach of Japan's Sunwolves, replacing national boss Jamie Joseph who relinquished his dual role to focus on Japan ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup on home soil.
Brown, former coach of the Otago Highlanders, has been working as Joseph's assistant and he said he hoped to guide the wooden spooners into a position to trouble Super Rugby's top teams.
The Sunwolves showed improvement under Joseph last season, their third in Super Rugby, with three victories including a 63-28 thrashing of Australia's Reds - but they still finished bottom of the table.
"Keeping continuity and building on 2018 is the most important thing for us in 2019," said Brown, adding that he wanted to "take the Sunwolves forward and into a position to challenge the best teams in the competition".
Brown, a former flyhalf with 18 international caps, is the fourth New Zealander to coach the Sunwolves after Mark Hammett in 2016, Filo Tiatia in 2017 and Joseph last year.
The 43-year-old is used to replacing Joseph. He took over from his fellow Kiwi at the Highlanders in 2017, leading the former champions to the quarter-finals.
Brown led the Sunwolves for the last three games of the 2018 season after Joseph returned to New Zealand to undergo treatment for back pain.
Joseph has tipped Japan to reach the World Cup quarter-finals, after a strong summer of home Tests during which the Brave Blossoms beat Georgia 28-0 and split a two-match series with Italy.
"In a World Cup year, my core responsibility is to prepare the national team, especially as Japan is hosting the tournament," said Joseph in a statement.