Shaun Wane has announced a shock decision to resign as Wigan Warriors coach and end his 36-year association with his home-town club.
The 53-year-old Wane began his playing career with Wigan in 1982 and has gone on to become their longest-serving coach of the Super League era.
"I feel that now is the right time for me to seek a new challenge and direction in my professional career," Wane said in statement. "Throughout my playing and coaching career I have enjoyed unparalleled success in all areas.
“These accolades have given me both personal and professional satisfaction and the memories will remain with me evermore.
“During my career, I have made many special friends with players, past and present, coaching staff, office staff and management and I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to you all for the support that you have afforded me, without which the success may not have been so great.
“I have one last task to complete and that is to bring home as much silverware as possible this season.”
Wane ending three decades at Wigan
As a player, Wane made his debut in 1982 and played 150 games for Wigan, memorably winning the Man-of-the-Match award in the Wigan World Club Challenge victory over Manly in 1987.
He was appointed as coach by Ian Lenagan in 2012 to succeed Michael Maguire and in the last six seasons has led Wigan to success in all four Rugby League trophies winning the Challenge Cup, League Leader’s Shield, World Club Challenge and two Super League Grand Finals.
He is Wigan’s longest-serving coach of the Super League era and the 5th longest-serving Wigan coach of all time.
Chairman Ian Lenagan added: "Shaun Wane will leave Wigan Rugby League Club in the knowledge that his place in Wigan’s history is guaranteed. I feel certain that his decision to leave will have been a difficult one but he is a winner who wants to advance his career and challenge himself further on a different stage, having won everything with Wigan.
“He has developed from being a tough and uncompromising Rugby League prop in his playing days to become an equally tough and uncompromising Head Coach but with exceptional technical, tactical and player-motivational skills and a fearsome winning mentality.
“He has provided Wigan Rugby League Club with some memorable moments in the past six years and I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey that we have been on together. I have immense respect and admiration for Shaun as a Coach and would be delighted to see him sign off his 7th year as Wigan Head Coach with yet more trophies.
“I feel sure the Wigan fans will join me in ensuring that Shaun gets the appropriate send-off that he so richly deserves.
“In terms of a replacement, Wigan will not rush into an appointment as Shaun goes on to complete his final season.”