Shaun Wane Q and A: ‘Can we win Ashes and World Cup? Absolutely’

Shaun Wane was yesterday unveiled as the new England coach on a two-year deal.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 11:02 am
Shaun Wane with the Super League trophy when he was Wigan boss

He will lead the nation in the Ashes series this autumn and the 2021 World Cup. He spoke to Phil Wilkinson about the role...

How did the England link come about?

“I met one of the board members at a speaking engagement and we got talking about England. Then I met Ralph Rimmer (chief executive) and Simon Johnson (chairman) a few weeks later.”

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Did you have other options?

“I had the option of staying in Scotland, a full-time role living in Scotland and a few other things.”

How did you find rugby union?

“I’m glad I did it. In my time with Scotland, I didn’t do much with the top squad but I looked at all the age groups and met some good people and learnt some important things which I will use.

“I am a league man but I have had time away and I think it’s made me a better coach.

“I have an open mind and I try to learn something every day and Scotland did some quality things. I can add to the good stuff that England are already doing.”

Did you ever think you’d get this opportunity?

“No I didn’t, if I’m honest. I’m very grateful and I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure we have success.”

What did you miss about coaching?

“The pressure, the need to win. The stress of it all.

Watching teams, how they attack, how they defend and how you can break them down and win the game.

“That’s ultimately what I missed. Watching Great Britain, I saw players that can step up but me as a person, I’m never happy and I want the players to never be happy either. No matter how good a person’s form is, I’m going to find ways how they can improve. Sean O’Loughlin, Jonny Lomax, no matter who it is.”

Who will be your captain?

“I’ve no idea who. I’ve genuinely not.”

If Sean O’Loughlin’s form is good enough this year would you consider him for the Ashes series – even though he plans to retire and won’t be in the mix for the World Cup?

“Anybody who’s flying, fit, healthy, I’ll look it. If I think they can help us win the Ashes they will play.”

Your predecessor picked Australian-born players who qualified through ancestry – will you go down that route?

“I will pick players who are the best for England. The one thing they need to be is really passionate. Whoever is going to deliver the wins will be in, it’s as simple as that.”

You’ve coached against many of the players – who are you looking forward to having on your side?

“Jonny Lomax is exciting, Luke Thompson. I had Scott Taylor but he’s at another club – it’s hard to answer, there are a lot of players I’m excited about working with.”

What are your going to do first? What are your plans for the next few days?

“I’m going to decide on my assistants and speak to a few senior players. It’s early days, my mind is open and I’ll think about what’s the best way forward.”

You said you’ve missed coaching, how will you find having just three or four games a year?

“I need to find the blend of what we did at Wigan, and doing it again but with not as many games. So when we get players together we need quality, the detail the players get is informative and beneficial. I think they’ll find me very different to what they’ve had before.”

Have you had many messages of congratulations?

“I thought I got a lot of texts when I got the Wigan job but this has been relentless. This is very special to me. Not many jobs would’ve taken me away from Scotland but this is the one.”

It’s a full-time role – what else will it entail between now and October?

“Making sure the team is prepared. The one frustration I had when I was a club coach was I would’ve done things differently. Now I’m England coach, I will do. I’ll not only liaise with the head coaches but physios, strength and conditioning coaches and the players playing for a certain club.

“It’s showing them the respect they deserve and making sure they’re included in everything. It’s about getting that link back. I’ll be going to more games, meeting more players and I’ll go out to Super League clubs watching them train.

I don’t know how important that was to the previous coach. I think it would’ve been had he been here but the fact is I’m here and it’s massively important. It’s also a decent thing to do.

“When I sent players away on international duty, I needed that feedback and connection and it wasn’t the way I wanted it. Now I’ve got a chance to improve that.”

Will you have someone in Australia to co-ordinate with your NRL players?

“Hopefully. That’s what I spoke to Ralph about this morning. I want to get out there quite a bit and make sure players out there get the same information as Super League players.”

Do you genuinely believe England can win the Ashes and the World Cup?

Absolutely. Without question. We need to work hard and smart and make sure technically we’re perfect and we find a way to win. I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t think we could win this.”