Shaun Wane discusses where coaching England at the Rugby League World Cup ranks in his career
The 58-year-old has enjoyed an illustrious career as a player and a coach, with three Super League Grand Final wins during his time in charge of Wigan Warriors being among his achievements.
Despite enjoying the recent World Cup, Wane admits he still thinks about the way his side exited the tournament, after they were defeated on golden point in the semi-finals against Samoa.
“Going through it all will improve me as a coach and the way I run camps, so hopefully the players will benefit from that,” he said.
“We did a lot of things right as well- it was a great experience, but my thought process is always on how we can make it better.
“It was very new for me.
“I had done a few camps as a player, and I have done them with Wigan, but that was a different level.
“Every game was a big one. I loved it, and embraced it.
“It was great to win trophies with my hometown club, but I’m a very proud Englishman, so the World Cup was the best seven weeks I’ve ever had in rugby, and I want it again because it’s very addictive.
“To lead the team to a semi-final, and come so close to the final; I was proud but very disappointed. There were mixed emotions.
“It is still tough to think about now.
“I’m a forward thinking person and I can move on from things, but this has been different because I was so passionate and so determined to make our country proud- and it didn’t work out that way.
“We need to do things differently as a group and we will be better.
“I’ve had good memories in my life as a player and as a coach.
“To have my grandson walking out with the ball at the Bolton Stadium, to pack out the DW for the Papua New Guinea game, and then to get to a ground like Arsenal- it is a big deal.
“It’s something I’m extremely proud of, but we didn’t get to the final and that was the aim.”
Wane believes the legacy of the recent tournament has already started to benefit rugby league in England, but wants to see further steps taken.
“If you look at some of the crowds at the start of Super League- I put that down to the World Cup,” he added.
“It shows you how important the international game is.
“There’s a reason why our crowds over Easter were through the roof.
“There are different atmospheres now, and that’s because of the interest of people who saw the World Cup.
“We need to embrace that and take it to another level, in order to get more young boys and girls playing our fantastic game.
“People need to know what the international calendar is for next year and the year after, so they can buy tickets.
“It would be so good to have full stadiums for these games.
“We need rock solid fixtures locked in so people can behind it to make it a fantastic spectacle.”
England recently produced a 64-0 victory over France in the mid-season international at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Ash Handley and George Williams both went over for hat-tricks in the win.
Meanwhile, Wigan’s Jake Wardle, Toby King, Harry Smith, Ethan Havard, Kai Pearce-Paul and Morgan Smithies were also involved in the fixture.
Wane says he wants to see further growth in the international game, with more countries in the northern hemisphere competing.
“I want France to be strong,” he stated.
“It’s a country I love to visit, and they are very passionate about rugby league.
“We also need to make Ireland, Scotland and Wales stronger.
“My dream would be to coach England in an international series, but we’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work to do.
“We have to improve and we have to get better.
“We need to get more people playing at a high standard.
“Wigan V Saints on Good Friday was a fantastic game- and we just need more of them.
“When we get more games like that, we will be better prepared for when the internationals come along.
“I’ll never be happy or satisfied, we want a competition like the NRL, we have to get better- that has to be our mentality.
“The international game will be strong if the domestic one is.”
England have three test games against Tonga booked in for the end of the season.
They will face Kristian Woolf’s side at the Totally Wicked Stadium (October 22), the John Smith’s Stadium (October 28) and Headingley (November 4).
Uncertainty does surround the next World Cup, which is due to take place in 2025, after France confirmed they would no longer be hosting the tournament due to financial concerns.
New Zealand, Fiji, South Africa and Qatar have all expressed a preliminary interest in taking over the reigns.