Shaun Edwards is coming home.
The Wigan legend will return to coach the club where he cast his rugby league legacy from 2020 - with another former player, Adrian Lam, taking charge as interim coach next season.
Warriors confirmed the capture, widely-expected and even teased by the club on social-media, at 8pm tonight, bringing to an end an exhaustive search for a successor to Scotland RU-bound Shaun Wane.
The Club are also excited to announce that Adrian Lam, Wigan’s 2002 Challenge Cup winning halfback, will return to the Club to take up the interim Head Coach position for the 2019 season to replace outgoing Head Coach Wane.
Chairman Ian Lenagan described bringing Edwards back as “progressive”. He said: “Shaun Edwards is a legendary figure in both codes of rugby as a supremely gifted player and as a highly successful coach.
“He is an inspirational figure, a born leader and a winner at everything he has turned his attention to. He also has Wigan Rugby League Club in his blood. We’re delighted to have been able to bring Shaun back to the club which he represented with such distinction.
“Shaun will undoubtedly inject some fresh ideas and impetus into the game, drawing on his extensive experience in rugby union, and we’re proud to have made such a progressive appointment. We’re looking forward to how he builds on the very strong foundations that we have in place at Wigan.
“Wigan enjoys a global standing within our sport and beyond and, having Shaun at the helm is a shot in arm for the club and also for the sport of Rugby League and the Super League competition.”
Edwards will remain with Wales RU until after the World Cup next year, with former Queensland captain Lam keeping the hot-seat warm until then.
Lenagan said: “We’re extremely fortunate to have a man of Adrian’s calibre to come into the head coach role on an interim basis for the 2019 season.
“Adrian won the hearts and minds of every Wigan fan during his time here as a player and he’s coming to Wigan us as one of Australia’s brightest and most respected coaches having coached the Papua New Guinea national team and with the Sydney Roosters. He’s a great addition - one that myself, Kris Radlinski and Shaun Edwards are extremely enthused about.
“We all feel Adrian will have significant impact on the Wigan team before returning to Australia with the additional experience to be capable of taking up a head coach role there.”
It is an unusual arrangement, but one which may suit former player Lam, giving him head coaching experience at a big-name club and thrusting him back into the spotlight.
He has previously worked as an assistant at Cronulla, St George Illawarra and most recently with the Kangaroos, having cut his coaching teeth at Wigan in 2005.
He had spent the previous four seasons at the Warriors as an influential halfback, becoming a huge fans’ favourite and helping them to the 2002 Challenge Cup Final victory - the year he was voted Super League players’ player of the year.
Warriors executive director Kris Radlinski - a former team-mate of both Edwards and Lam - said: “Shaun Edwards is one the sport’s most respected coaches and personalities who will bring with him a wealth of experience to Wigan Warriors.
“His knowledge of Rugby League is still as sharp as it was when he was the leader of Wigan’s finest-ever side as a player, and we think he’ll bring a fresh, innovative approach to our organisation having spent 18 years in rugby union. We believe that we have the structures in place for Shaun to thrive as a Rugby League coach and we’re delighted to have him back at the club.
“Adrian Lam’s reputation as one of Australia’s brightest coaches is one that we as Wigan fans should also be very excited about. There are many parallels with when Michael Maguire came over as an assistant coach from the Melbourne Storm to lead the club, so Adrian’s year with Wigan promises to be an exciting one.”
Previous reports Lam could bring his son Lachlan, a reserve-team halfback with Sydney Roosters, with him to Super League were not mentioned in the statement but the key figures will surely be asked about that possibility at a press conference tomorrow.
The announcement was made hours after Wigan confirmed John Bateman will be leaving for the NRL at the end of the season.
Wane announced in May he would be stepping down, ending his seven years in charge as head coach and an association which trails back to his playing days alongside Edwards.
Ironically, he also started his coaching career alongside Lam, when they were U18s and U21s coaches respectively.
Edwards has not coached in league before, and will have more than a year to readjust to the 13-a-side code as he serves out his contract in union with Wales.
He has enjoyed tremendous success in union with Wasps and the Welsh national side and, of course, his record as a player is unmatched.
A former Man of Steel and Great Britain captain, he is fourth on the club’s all-time tryscoring charts (274) and 6th on the number of appearances, with 467.
He played in every Challenge Cup game on Wigan’s incredible eight-year run from 1988 to ‘95, and was also a winner in the ‘85 epic against Hull FC.
Edwards, who has been linked with the role from the start, was at the DW Stadium last month, scribbling notes as he watched Wigan’s defeat against St Helens from his seat in the East Stand.