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Club Rugby

Rugby director Tony Hanks departs from Wasps

Wasps have announced rugby director Tony Hanks' departure from the Aviva Premiership club "by mutual agreement."

Head coach Shaun Edwards will take charge of the Wasps squad for Saturday's league clash against champions Leicester at Welford Road.

Wasps chief executive Chris Thomas says the search for New Zealander Hanks' replacement will begin immediately.

Hanks was appointed rugby director in May 2009, succeeding Sir Ian McGeechan at Adams Park.

The former Waikato coach had previously headed up Wasps' back-room team when McGeechan was allowed time to prepare for leading the 2009 British and Irish Lions in South Africa.

Wasps are currently sixth in the Premiership, two points adrift of the title play-off places, although they made a Heineken Cup pool stage exit last month despite beating holders Toulouse in their final game.

That Toulouse triumph is their only victory from the last six matches in all competitions.

Thomas said: "Results have not gone as we would have liked this season, and we have been disappointed with recent performances.

"Tony has been equally disappointed with how things are going on the pitch, as he has always been wholeheartedly committed to the club with a strong desire to see it succeed.

"Both parties believe that the time is right for change to give the squad a fresh start, and the club is now looking forward."

Hanks, who also worked with Wasps under McGeechan's predecessor Warren Gatland, added: "I am naturally disappointed to be leaving the club, and this has been a really tough decision to come to.

"In my time here over many years I have developed a very strong bond with the players and staff, and I want to thank them for their hard work and commitment.

"I have huge respect for London Wasps and I wish everyone the best. I am confident there is a special group of players coming through and that the club will be successful in the future."

Thomas believes Hanks' successor will inherit a squad high on ambition and set to be strengthened by new arrivals.

He said: "Our focus now is on recruiting someone who can take the club forward and put us in the best position to challenge for honours.

"Tony's successor will inherit an ambitious squad that we will strengthen in the coming months.

"With eight more Premiership games to go, our aim as a minimum is to secure our place in next year's Heineken Cup and continue to fight for a place in the play-offs.

"This club has a proud history of success, and our ambition is as strong as ever."

Edwards, despite being put in charge for this weekend's game, is also Wales defence coach, which will limit his availability for next week's home Premiership clash against Saracens, given that Wales have an RBS 6 Nations appointment with Italy in Rome the same weekend.