Invincible Edwards hangs up his boots

Build up of injuries persuades game's most successful player to bow out at the age of 33
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The Independent Online

Shaun Edwards, the proud possessor of more winners' medals than any player in the game, has announced his retirement.

A fixture in Wigan's all-conquering side for almost a decade and a half, Edwards was due to play against them for the London Broncos tonight, but the wear and tear of his long career has finally caught up with him. He has neck and knee injuries, but it is the after effects of a broken jaw in the Challenge Cup final 10 years ago which worry him the most.

"Every time I get hit on the right side I get double vision," he said, explaining his decision to bow out at the age of 33. "And I can't walk for two days after every game I play."

Edwards, capped 36 times by Great Britain, said that his record of only being on the losing side five times in 16 Tests against Australia and New Zealand was his proudest achievement.

It is his unparalleled record in domestic competition, however, for which he will be most vividly remembered. With Wigan, the home town club he signed for on his 16th birthday, he won every honour in the game several times over. He played in every one of their victorious ties as they won the Cup eight times in succession.

Edwards first joined the Broncos in 1997 and, after a brief and unhappy stay with Bradford, returned to lead them to his own 11th Wembley final last year.

The London and former Wigan coach, John Monie, said: "I don't think British rugby league will ever again see a player who achieves what Shaun has. His career has been a feat of remarkable endurance and his contribution to the game has been immeasurable. He has battled with injury of late and I think this is the right decision. I'm sure he will be of great service in the area of coaching some day, if that is what he chooses to do."

The same thought occurred to the Broncos' chief executive, Tony Rea. "We did talk about the opportunity of him staying on with the club and assisting in coaching and development, but he has decided to make a clean break," he said.

Edwards does have coaching ambitions and said that he would be interested in listening to approaches from any clubs for next season, after he has had a break from a game that has been his life.

Meanwhile, the bottom club in professional rugby league, the Lancashire Lynx, have bolstered their ranks through a unique partnership with the student game.

Under an agreement announced yesterday, members of the Great Britain Students squad will turn out for the Lynx. Any winning bonuses will go into a kitty that will finance the students' tour to New Zealand and Australia this autumn.

The Lancashire coach, Steve Hampson, said: "Sometimes we have only just had enough players, so this will create competition for places and give some of our existing players a kick up the backside."

The Lynx have won just one game this season and were beaten 60-6 by Hull KR in their last match. "It will be valuable experience for our players," said the Student Rugby League's administrator, Niel Wood. "Even if our lads lose 60-6, they will get some benefit from it."

Halifax have put their former Wigan and Castleford winger, Danny Ellison, on the transfer list, while Widnes have signed the Cumbrian forward, Simon Knox, for the rest of this season.

The Whitehaven captain, Aaron Lester, has been referred to next week's disciplinary hearing, for allegedly striking Featherstone's Michael Rhodes.

The League is to appoint a development officer for one of its original heartlands, West Cumbria.