Shaun Edwards: Wigan Warriors head coach for 2020 keen to prove league credentials
Returning Wigan coach Shaun Edwards wanted the “adrenaline buzz” of testing his coaching abilities in rugby league, having spent his post-playing career in rugby union.
Edwards, 51, has been a major success in union with Wales alongside Warren Gatland, who he also worked with at Wasps and British & Irish Lions.
Edwards, who played 453 games at the club, will take over at Wigan in 2020.
“It’s a bit of a risk for me,” he told BBC Radio Manchester.
“It’s the lure of wanting to prove myself, I’m an adrenaline junkie I suppose. It’s that challenge of proving myself in rugby league and seeing a successful Wigan team that excites me.”
Wigan will have Adrian Lam in charge in 2019 once Shaun Wane departs for the Scotland rugby union set-up, with Edwards arriving the following season after his 2019 Rugby Union World Cup commitments with Wales are complete.
‘Success and expectations have to be relative’
Wigan’s announcement of their coaching successors to Wane was warmly received by the club’s fans, whether they lived through or had been brought up on the glory days of Edwards’ playing career at the old Central Park.
The haul of nine Challenge Cups, eight championships and three World Club Challenges, many of which were hoisted aloft by the man himself, restored Wigan to the top table of rugby league after a barren spell in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
However, their success in the pre-Super League era will be difficult to repeat, as full-time set-ups and the salary cap reduced the gulf between the clubs.
“Success and expectations have to be relative,” Edwards continued.
“I’m sure the Wigan fans understand that now. A lot of those Wigan fans now weren’t even born when we were winning the trophies, so it’s important we create our own memories.
“The ones who are old enough can enjoy the past but it’s ridiculous to think you can recreate that.”
‘We’ll be in communication’
Before Edwards’ arrival, another former Wigan half-back and fans’ favourite in Lam will come in to take charge on an interim basis.
The former Papua New Guinea head coach, who also had spells on the staff at St George Illawarra and Cronulla, will have regular dialogue with his successor.
“I think I can make the difference and help develop the players over the next 12 months,” Lam said.
“We’ve got to deal with the cards we’re given straight away, but we’ll be in communication a lot to make sure we’re ticking all the boxes.
“I’ve spoken to Kris [Radlinski – general manager] and Shaun, they’ve both given me permission to do what I’ve got to do. Shaun will come in and add his own style after that.
“I think part of my skill-set is to be able to communicate with the players and get the best out of them.”