Ian Lenagan wants a change of national coach... and backs Shaun Wane for the England role

Ex-Wigan coach Shaun Wane
Ex-Wigan coach Shaun Wane

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan has called for Wayne Bennett to be replaced as national coach by an Englishman - and would back Shaun Wane for the role.

Lenagan, one of the most influential of the Super League club owners, pushed the claims of former Wigan coach Wane as the successor to Bennett, whose contract ran out at the end of 2019.

Wane ended his long association with the Warriors after leading them to a third Grand Final triumph in 2018 and is currently working part-time in Scottish Rugby Union.

The Rugby Football League are currently compiling a review into the disappointing Great Britain Lions tour and expect to make an announcement on the vacant coaching role at the next board meeting on February 6.

Speaking at a briefing at Wigan's pre-season media day at the club's Robin Park training ground, Lenagan says a majority of club chairman want a change of coach and picked out Castleford boss Daryl Powell as another candidate.

"The least said about the recent international series the better," Lenagan said. "It's interesting to see our old friend Shaun being mooted a few times in terms of whether or not he should become the England coach.

"There is no doubt that from the vast majority of chairman I talk to that we'd like to see an English guy and somebody who can motivate and understand Super League better.

"I think Wayne Bennett is an enormously capable coach and has been superb all his life but I would much prefer a Shaun Wane or a Powell or whoever it is but someone of the calibre and talent who can make the England team play well because he knows them and doesn't make the sort of strange selection decisions."

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer has said a mix of other candidates have been put forward for consideration and ticket sales for the forthcoming Ashes Series will be taken into account when it comes to making their decision.

Bennett came under fire for taking only one specialist centre and two recognised wingers on the Lions tour and Lenagan took a swipe at the veteran Australian over the continued omission of Wigan forward Liam Farrell, whose service to his club will be recognised with a testimonial match against Leeds on Sunday.

"We all believe he is under-valued, particularly by Wayne Bennett who consistently doesn't pick him, but in terms of his contribution over the years Liam Farrell has been superb as far as Wigan is concerned," Lenagan said.

Wigan coach Adrian Lam says utility back Bevan French will start the game at full-back, with Zak Hardaker likely to help fill the gap caused by injury to England centre Oliver Gildart.

Gildart, who returned home early from the Great Britain tour to have surgery on a dislocated shoulder, is expected back towards the end of March.