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Shaun Edwards confirms Wigan exit

The Wales defence coach, and former Warriors player, will not be taking up his agreed position as head coach.

Wigan aim to draw a line under the Shaun Edwards saga after confirming his about-turn on their head coach position.

Edwards, 52, verbally agreed a three-year deal last August to return to his home-town club as head coach from 2020.

However, the Wales rugby union defence coach revealed in the aftermath of his team’s Six Nations triumph that he did not sign the contract and shortly afterwards Wigan revealed he had asked for more time to consider his future.

Wigan v Halifax – Silk Cut Challenge Cup – Wembley
As Wigan captain, Shaun Edwards holds aloft the Challenge Cup after leading his side to victory over Halifax in at Wembley in 1988 (PA)

Monday’s announcement, therefore, came as no surprise and Edwards now looks set to stay on Wales’ backroom staff under new head coach Wayne Pivac after the World Cup in Japan in November.

Edwards, who won every major domestic honour during a 15-year career with Wigan from 1983 to 1997, said in a joint statement: “After much thought and deliberation, I wish to clarify my situation.

“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.”

Rugby League – Wigan Warriors Press Conference – JJB Stadium
Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan says he was surprised by Shaun Edwards’ U-turn (Malcolm Couzens/PA)

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, who apologised to fans for the confusion, said: “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.

“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.”

Castleford Tigers v Wigan Warriors – Betfred Super League – Mend-A-Hose-Jungle
Wigan interim head coach Adrian Lam was due to hand over the reins to Shaun Edwards in November (Simon Cooper/PA)

Wigan will now begin the search for a new head coach.

Another former player, Adrian Lam, is currently in charge, having taken over from the long-serving Shaun Wane at the end of last season, but is working on a 12-month contract.

Lenagan added: “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.”

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