The 18th man column: ‘Waney has been one of Wigan’s best ever coaches’

Shaun Wane with grandson Teddy after the WCC win
Shaun Wane with grandson Teddy after the WCC win

Our 18th man columnists discuss Shaun Wane’s decision to leave and who they would like to see succeed him...

What is your take on Shaun Wane’s decision to step down?

Sean Lawless: Ultimately, I am disappointed to see Shaun Wane leave but, I am glad that he has decided to go on his own terms.

When the dust settles, it could be the best decision all around with the numerous changes in playing staff for 2019 is perhaps the best opportunity for a new manager to implement their ethos on the team.

Robert Kenyon: I was told about it last week but took it with a pinch of salt as I’d only heard it from one source, when it was announced I was shocked.

I’m thankful for everything Waney has done for the club and I’m sure he’s after a new challenge, after all he’s won everything with Wigan.

Catalans, Canberra and England Rugby Union have been mentioned and he could do a good job with either of the three. Once you do well at Wigan then the NRL and rugby union clubs come sniffing around you, you can’t blame them and I don’t blame Waney for wanting a fresh challenge.

He’s won everything with a core group of players that have come through the youth set up.

Many coaches have tried and failed to bring youth through but Waney is one coach who has been brave enough to try them and has been repaid time and time again.

He will certainly go down in the history books as one of our best ever coaches and one of the most successful coaches in Super League.

Darren Wrudd: Shaun Wane is a bold character and has formed a wonderful relationship with the club over the last three decades, I simply cannot understand why he would jump ship without having something solid in place. He has said nothing has been signed and his options are open, I believe that, but I can’t believe that he has not had an offer to sign elsewhere and is just waiting for his time to announce it at a later date.

Whatever the outcome, I wish him well.

He has given so much to this club and will continue to do so until October.

There will however always be the suggestion of suspicious timing connecting his announcement with the capture of our new full back Hardaker.

Jon Lyon: I was absolutely stunned by the announcement; it’s not often in sport that a decision like this is made without hearing any rumours first.

As far as Shaun is concerned he’s entitled to do whatever he likes. He has lived and breathed this club for 30 years, so if he feels he wants a change of scenery or a new challenge then I wish him all the best, he has certainly earned that right.

As for Wigan, it’s a very sad day indeed. I think all those fans who have been complaining about him for the last couple of seasons will soon realise what they have lost. Despite the ridiculous injuries we have had the previous two seasons, we have been Super League champions and World Club champions, and narrowly lost a Challenge Cup final and two Grand Finals, as well as winning a league and cup double under Wane.

Most clubs can only dream of that kind of success.

David Bailey: I have a feeling I wasn’t alone in being shocked when the news broke early Monday morning that this season would be Shaun Wane’s last in charge of his hometown team.

I think the timing as well came as a bit of a bolt out of the blue. I understand the news was swirling around Magic Weekend and a few “experts” were tweeting to suggest the next managerial casualty would be a high profile one. Ok, “casualty” is probably stretching it as there’s no suggestion of anything other than Wane choosing to bow out.

It just seemed odd coming on the back of the best performance of the season and the announcements about Hardaker and Gildart.

Who would you like to see take over?

Sean Lawless: I would really love to see Shaun Edwards return to Wigan as the new head coach with perhaps two experienced assistant managers. I am not concerned about his absence from the game, in fact I see that as a great opportunity – an opportunity to get some fresh ideas into the side. I would also be really excited about seeing George Williams work under Edwards.

Robert Kenyon: Heart says Shaun Edwards, head says Daryl Powell.

I like the way Daryl Powell gets his teams playing, good old fashioned British rugby league.

I’m sure Shaun Edwards would play an attractive brand too, I don’t buy for one minute the amount of time he’s been away from the game will be a hindrance.

I’ll guarantee he watches most games from the NRL and SL each week.

With Edwards we would have someone take over with the same desire and work ethic as Waney. Either or to be fair.

There were mentions of Betts, Furner, Lam and Barrett which could all do a job but I don’t think they’d be better candidates at this moment in time than Powell or Edwards.

Darren Wrudd: There has to be a pathway through our clubs system just like the young players get.

I don’t know too much about John Winder’s personality but I do know he commands huge respect from the players and staff at the club.

I have seen his success at lower levels as he coached our younger sides, just like Shaun Wane did. So I would love to see him offered the reins if Mr Lenagan and Mr Radlinski think he has what it takes.

The club would have continuity and could happily build on the strong structures that Wane has had such an influence in creating over the recent years.

Jon Lyon: My heart says Shaun Edwards. Someone who is Wigan through and through just like Shaun Wane. The only down side is the amount of time he has spent away from the sport.

I’m sure he’s kept an eye on the game but that’s not the same as being involved on a day-to-day basis.

With what he has achieved as a player though, he can only be inspiring as a coach, and he certainly doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

If not Shaun then maybe someone like Adrian Lam, who has done a lot of coaching in Australia and with Papua New Guinea, and he would hopefully bring a good attacking game with him to suit our backs.

If Wane does end up at Catalans, as possibly rumoured, the very last person I want to see at Wigan is Steve McNamara. If that happens then I’m having my seat turned round to face away from the pitch!

David Bailey: For me the next appointment is a crucial one for the club. Ian Lenagan hasn’t steered the club wrong in his tenure so far in my opinion but this is a critical decision.

I am scratching my head at to who I would like. Everyone mentioned has question marks over them.

Shaun Edwards is the romantic choice but he’s been out of RL for 18 years.

John Winder would give continuity but has he got the experience or same passion for Wigan as a town as Wane? Trent Barrett, Adrian Lam have the connections and experience but the culture was hugely different when they were at the Warriors. There’s no one obvious candidate for me but if I had to choose I would probably plump for Edwards as long as the backroom staff is maintained particularly John Winder and Mark Bitcon.

Which of last week’s news pleased you the most – Zak Hardaker’s signing, or Oliver Gildart’s re-signing?

Sean Lawless: I am very pleased to see Oliver Gildart re-sign for Wigan, I think it would have been too early for him to try the NRL and I couldn’t imagine him in the Red Vee!

But, I think the signing of Zak Hardaker is shrewd business by Wigan! To replace Sam Tomkins with such a great talent is excellent news. I understand the concerns attributed to his signing but I do think that Wigan will see the best of Zak Hardaker.

Robert Kenyon: Gildart re-signing most definitely, he is a class act and great to watch. He can create space and that’s a rare trait in a centre these days. He’s a future England centre and it’s only a matter of time before the NRL clubs start sniffing around him, let’s hope he sticks with us.

With regards Hardaker, he is a good player and will fit in well until he messes up again which he probably will.

If Waney was stopping I’d have more confidence that he’d behave himself, but until I find out who will take over I can’t say for sure. What’s done is done now, he will be a Wigan player so will get my full backing while he wears the shirt and hopefully will change my opinion of him.

Darren Wrudd: Now that’s an unfair question as it’s obvious to me that Oliver Gildart has been outstanding this year and it is a huge success for our club to have secured his signature. I like Gilly, he is a fabulous centre and creates such space and excitement on the field when he chimes into play. That said, if Zak reads this, he must understand that both news stories are good for the club. I am looking forward to the combinations that both could bring to 2019.

Jon Lyon: Definitely the re-signing of Gildart. Along with Mark Percival he is the best young centre in the British game and to tie him down to a three-year contract is great news. I think it’s the right decision for Gildart too. A few more years developing at Wigan will give him a better chance of being a success in the NRL should he choose to go there in future.

There’s every chance Oli and Zak could be centre partners, with Escare at fullback and Burgess/Marshall/Davies/hopefully Manfredi on the wings. That is one incredibly fast back line, a mouth-watering prospect.

David Bailey: While the Zak Hardaker news gained all of the column inches and was one of the stories of the week, I will have to be honest and say the Gildart news was a more welcome fillip.

Gildart is a young player who has come through the system, his dad wore the Cherry & White with great success too, so to have lost Gildart would have been a blow, especially considering one of the rumoured clubs interested was our lovely neighbours down the East Lancs.

That would have been a tough one to stomach. I have no doubt Gildart might look to try his arm at the NRL in his career but we often forget he will still only be 24 when this new contract expires. Hardaker has hopefully learned his lesson and could more than make up for the disappointment of losing Sam Tomkins.