Japan's World Cup blueprint 'lost', says Joseph

Alastair HIMMER
Jamie Joseph (C) coaches Japan's rugby squad, a task he says he started from scratch as his predecessor left no notes

Japan coach Jamie Joseph has expressed dismay that notes on the team's swashbuckling 2015 World Cup run were not available to him when he took over from Eddie Jones.

Keeping up with the Joneses is likely to prove tricky enough, but Joseph revealed Friday that he had to start from scratch as no blueprints for Japan's success were kept.

"When I came into this job I had to start again so for me that's bizarre," the former All Black told AFP in an interview.

"You come into the most successful Japanese team of all time and there's not one piece of paper around on how they actually achieved that. How do you work that out?"

Joseph took charge of Japan last November after Jones had led the 'Brave Blossoms' to three World Cup wins, including a seismic 34-32 triumph over two-time champions South Africa.

However, Joseph arrived to find the cupboard bare.

"You get into the job and there's nothing. There's no training programme, no intellectual property," shrugged the 47-year-old.

"It existed I'm sure, but it existed with Eddie and it's all gone with the bloke, so you've got to start again.

"If you go into the Highlanders, New Zealand or England, you would have a series of reviews and reports that would help an incoming group to carry on," he added, pointing to Jones's appointment as England coach following their dismal World Cup as hosts.

"(Stuart) Lancaster would have gone through a series of those that Eddie would have had access to, to make sure he didn't make similar mistakes. Eddie would have had that knowledge."

Joseph had a rude welcome as Japan coach as they were pummelled 54-20 by Argentina before a close win over Georgia and defeats by Wales and Fiji on their winter tour of Europe.

- Extra pressure -

But the New Zealander insists Japan's performance at the 2015 World Cup had not created any extra lasting pressure as he builds towards the 2019 tournament on home soil.

"Initially last year when I turned up there were a lot of expectations," said Joseph.

"But I don't accept any of that history two years later as being a motivator or a de-motivator. I've got a new coaching team, the majority of the players are going to be new and in three years' time it's going to be different again."

Jones raised eyebrows by targeting a place in the World Cup quarter-finals two years ago but Joseph side-stepped any "premature" predictions.

"I don't want you to think I'm mad," said Joseph, whose side welcome Ireland for two fixtures in June before home tests against Australia and France in November. "I don't think any of the top 10 teams see us as a threat."

But Joseph believes home advantage will help Japan at the next World Cup -- if his players survive the punishing training schedule.

"We're the team that's got the least experience, the smallest guys, who are expected to win at a World Cup at home," he said during a three-week camp in Tokyo before the Asian championship beginning next month.

"We've got to be fitter," added Joseph. "But there's a real clarity around what we expect from the players."

As his players pumped iron in the weights room next door, Joseph joked about his predecessor's brutal weight training sessions.

"Eddie did it for a long period of time and the net result of that is they won at the World Cup -- and then they all quit," he chuckled. "You work it out!"