Shaun Edwards to return to rugby league as Wigan Warriors coach in 2020

Shaun Edwards
Shaun Edwards

Shaun Edwards is to return to Wigan as their new head coach but not until after the 2019 Rugby Union World Cup.

Edwards, 51, the most decorated player in rugby league history, will link up with the Warriors at the end of his current contract with Wales RU and will take up a three-year deal from 2020.

Wigan have also appointed another former favourite, Adrian Lam, 47, as interim head coach for the 2019 season.

The pair will replace Shaun Wane, who is leaving Wigan at the end of the season to become the high performance coach for the Scottish Rugby Union.

Edwards, who has spent the last 17 years in rugby union, won 37 trophies during a glittering career with his hometown club, including a record nine Challenge Cup triumphs.

"Shaun Edwards is a legendary figure in both codes of rugby as a supremely gifted player and as a highly successful coach," Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan said.

"He is an inspirational figure, a born leader and a winner at everything he has turned his attention to.

"He also has Wigan Rugby League Club in his blood. We're delighted to have been able to bring Shaun back to the club which he represented with such distinction."

Edwards was at the heart of Wigan's historic Challenge Cup run in which they won eight back-to-back Wembley titles, and was named Man of Steel in 1990.

He won 36 caps for Great Britain and, after leaving Wigan in 1997, had brief spells at Bradford and London Broncos before retiring in 2000.

Edwards switched codes 12 months later, joining Wasps as defence and backs coach and taking over as head coach in 2005. He guided Wasps to a hat-trick of domestic titles and the Heineken Cup in 2004 and 2007.

Edwards left Wasps in 2011 to join the Wales coaching team and helped the nation to Grand Slam success in 2008 and 2012 as well the RBS 6 Nations title in 2013.

He was defence coach for the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2009.

WRU chairman Gareth Davies said: "We would like to congratulate Shaun on his appointment at Wigan Warriors.

"He is a rugby league legend and particularly so at Wigan and we know he will be welcomed back there with open arms.

"Shaun has and continues to be a great servant to Welsh Rugby. He has been part of a hugely successful coaching team over the past 10 years and we would like to thank him for all of his efforts.

"From a Wales perspective, entering a crucial Rugby World Cup year it is great that Shaun has committed to seeing out his contract with the WRU and to continue to help lead Wales into the RWC."

While Wigan wait for Edwards to honour his commitments with Wales, the appointment of Lam will also be warmly welcomed by fans.

The Papua New Guinea international became favourite during a three-year spell at the DW Stadium, where he played a key role in Wigan's 2002 Challenge Cup win at Murrayfield.

Lam cut his coaching teeth in Wigan with the academy before relocating back to Australia where he assisted England coach Wayne Bennett at St George Illawarra and also coached the PNG national team.

Recently, Lam has been part of the coaching staff at the Sydney Roosters and has been a part of Mal Meninga's Kangaroos backroom team.

Lenagan said: "We're extremely fortunate to have a man of Adrian's calibre to come into the head-coach role on an interim basis for the 2019 season.

"Adrian won the hearts and minds of every Wigan fan during his time here as a player and he's coming to Wigan as one of Australia's brightest and most respected coaches.

"He's a great addition - one that myself, Kris Radlinski and Shaun Edwards are extremely enthused about.

"We all feel Adrian will have significant impact on the Wigan team before returning to Australia with the additional experience to be capable of taking up a head-coach role there."

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