Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph tipped to replace Eddie Jones as Japan boss

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph is being lined up to replace Eddie Jones as Japan rugby coach, according to Japanese media reports.

Kyodo News says the Japan Rugby Football Union is negotiations with Joseph, and hopes to have an agreement in place before the end of the year.

Joseph, who played 20 Tests for New Zealand in a three-year career which ended in 1995, also played for Japan at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

He coached the Highlanders to their first Super Rugby title this year, and is under contract with the southern franchise until the end of the 2016 Super Rugby season.

In response to the reports, Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said: "It has always been this organizations policy not to respond to speculative comment on players, or coaches for that matter, coming and going from our club."

Kyodo News also reports that another former All Blacks prop Mark Hammett will coach the Sunwolves, Japan's first entry in next season's expanded 18-team Super Rugby competition.

Reports earlier this week indicated that Japan-based former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans has been sounded out to coach the Sunwolves for their inaugural campaign while Fiji's New Zealand coach John McKee had turned down an approach.