Shaun Wane has been tipped as a future England coach – by a man hoping to help guide Australia to victory this weekend.
Adrian Lam is in the UK as one of Mal Meninga’s assistants with the Kangaroos.
A hugely-popular player during his four years as a player with Wigan, he had a season working alongside Wane with the club’s juniors in 2005 – and is thrilled to see him enjoy success.
Wane has guided Wigan to four successive Grand Finals including victory at Old Trafford a month ago, which – in Lam’s view – should make him a contender to succeed Wayne Bennett.
“It’s good to see Waney having success,” said Lam. “He’s a good guy, he’s doing a great job and I’m really proud of him.
“I would like to have at least seen him be mentioned as coaching England soon – I think it’s his time pretty soon.
“Back then, he was very passionate about his club – he still had a bit to do – but the way he’s come on has been sensational.”
Lam, last on these shores three years ago as coach of Papua New Guinea, made 119 appearances for Wigan, and in his second season – 2002 – won the Challenge Cup and Super League’s players’ player of the year award.
He plans to find time to visit his former home in the next week.
“I was at Wigan for five years, four as a player, and I have so many great memories from my time there,” he said.
“I loved my time there, and I’m looking forward to catching up with all the people who made our time there so good.”
Before then, the former Queensland captain will be helping to prepare Australia for Sunday’s showdown with England in front of an expected bumper crowd at London Stadium.
“England-Australia matches are always tough, always fiery, and the tournament is on the line – they need to win,” said Lam.
“They’re under a new coach and it takes time to gel.
“They’ve got a massive forward pack, they were not at their best against Scotland, but they’ve some promising kids to watch.
“They’re going through a phase of young talent coming through, there aren’t many players who have been in the side 10 or 12 years like Australia, but I know the talent they have.
“George Williams is a busy player, he organises pretty well and he’s one we need to watch. The left centre, too, (Mark Percival) I like his movements, it will be good to see him in a year or two.”
Australia are on course for the final at Anfield – setting up a ‘homecoming’ for Lam.
“My mum is from Liverpool, she’s a scouser,” he smiled. “I’ve been to Anfield before to watch the soccer, I’m a Liverpool fan, and still have a few relatives there. It would be a bit of a homecoming.”
English fans saw Lam as a coach on the Sky Sports series NRL Rookie earlier this year.
And as well as his role with the Kangaroos, he assists with the junior development at his former club Sydney Roosters.
“My 18-year-old (Lachlan) is in the Under-20s there, he played for Australian Schoolboys this year and has got a long-term contract there,” said Lam.
“He’s probably three times better than I was, he’s one to watch and hopefully he’ll get his (NRL) chance next season. He actually started off at Wigan St Pat’s, too!
“And the younger one, who is 14, just signed a deal with the Roosters yesterday.”