Wigan Warriors have confirmed that Shaun Edwards will not become their head coach next season after performing a U-turn on last year’s agreement, with the current Wales defence coach poised to remain in the job beyond the Rugby World Cup.
Super League side Wigan issued a statement on Monday morning to announce the news following months of speculation, with Edwards able to opt out of the move after not signing a contract – despite being unveiled at a press conference last August.
But although the Sunday Times reported that Edwards is set to stay on with the Welsh Rugby Union in a transitional role with incoming head coach Wayne Pivac, the former Great Britain rugby league captain revealed that his lack of time to prepare for a return to the 13-man code and his former club is the reason behind his decision.
”After much thought and deliberation, I wish to clarify my situation,” Edwards said in a statement released by Wigan. “I will not be taking up the head coaching role at Wigan, the reason being my lack of preparation. World Cup preparations have been brought forward a month and, as a result, I will be unable to spend eight weeks in Australia as planned on rugby league. I feel Wigan need a more experienced rugby league head coach than myself, to give the club and the people of Wigan the best team possible.
“The Wigan deal I recently received is very favourable to all other offers I have had so far. For me, this is not about money, this is about Wigan Warriors getting the best man for the job which, at the moment, I feel is not me.”
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan admitted that Edwards’ decision had been a surprise following their conversations since the initial agreement last August, and he is keen to “draw a line” under the entire saga and identify Edwards’ replacement before the start of the 2020 season.
”I have been conversing with Shaun for a number of weeks since the completion of the Six Nations and, yesterday, Shaun revealed to me that he thought a combination of circumstances meant he would be under-prepared to take on the Wigan head coach job in November 2019,” Lenagan said.
“He clearly feels that he is not the best man to take the team forward currently and I have to respect and accept this. Like every Wiganer, I wanted Shaun to lead the team and this very honest admission has taken me by surprise.
“I have always admired Shaun and I wish him well with whatever he does next’.
“For us now our next steps are to confirm the coaching structure for 2020 and beyond and draw a line under the last few months and give our loyal fans the clarity they deserve. I’d like to thank our supporters for their patience and understanding in what has proven to be a very difficult situation to navigate and now we can concentrate on building more strong foundations to drive this wonderful club forward. We will announce our plans in due course.”
Current head coach Adrian Lam would be one contender to extend his stay and remain in control, but Wigan’s form this season under his guidance has been poor with just three wins and seven defeats from their 10 league games this season. With Wigan down in 10th place – above only basement club Leeds Rhinos and London Broncos – they face a tough ask to work their way up the table and back into title contention, and the club look set to remain open to all options for next season should Lam prove not to be the right man for the job.
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