Outgoing Wigan coach, Shaun Wane has admitted it would be a ‘big ask’ for Shaun Edwards to return to rugby league as his replacement at the end of this season.
Wane will end a 30-year association with the multiple-time Super League champions in October, and the former Great Britain international Edwards, who now works in rugby union having previously enjoyed a stellar spell in league with Wigan, linked as one of the favourites to replace Wane at Edwards’ hometown club.
Edwards himself admitted recently the prospect of becoming the first coach to win titles in both league and union is a challenge that would appeal to him, and he is understood to be interested in the role of succeeding Wane should the opportunity present itself.
Wane, however, believes the pressures of coaching a club like Wigan – plus the amount of time Edwards has spent out of the sport, having last been involved in 2000 – would make it a difficult role for Edwards to take without first taking on a smaller role in coaching.
“I think Shaun has said openly he couldn’t come back as a head coach straight away, he’d have to be an assistant,” Wane said. “This is a very different game nowadays: even from 2010, when I started coaching. It’s a big ask; Shaun is a very smart operator and he’s had success everywhere he’s been, but this would be a big challenge. It’d be a new game at a big club where you don’t just have to win things, you have to win them in a certain way.”
Wane also discussed the possibility of him following Edwards and moving into a role in rugby union – saying he is ‘open to anything’ when it comes to his next step. Speculation with the head coaching position at Super League side Catalans is understood to be wide of the mark, but Wane has left the door open for him to move into a role outside of domestic rugby league.
He said: “I feel I’ve got a lot to offer as I’ve been a fantastic environment for a long time. My mind is pretty clear at the minute and I think I’ve done a pretty good job here. I’ll be open to anything though: as I say, my mind is clear about that.
“I’ve only just resigned so there’s absolutely no options on the table yet. But I just needed something else to challenge me in a different way, and that’s why it was made. If I was to stay in league, I couldn’t assist somebody; in this sport I’d need to be in charge – but in other areas, I just want to learn and get better.”
Wane also insisted that the Warriors’ recent decision to sign controversial full-back Zak Hardaker when his 14-month suspension for taking cocaine ends this November had nothing to do with his decision to offer his resignation.
“Whoever would say that about Zak coming here doesn’t know me,” he said. “I wouldn’t have a player forced on me; I’m the most stubborn man in the world and Ian and Kris have always been loyal to me. I always pick my own players and when a player makes a mistake like he did, we have to support them as a sport.
“That’s what we’ve done with Zak and we’re not at the stage where he makes a mistake and he’s banned forever. I’d have loved to have coached him but it’s not the way it’s going to be – but to say that’s the reason I’d leave is way off the mark. You must know that.”