‘I need a job... but my prime focus is giving Wigan fans something to cheer for’

Shaun Wane took his first press conference since his announcement to step-down at the end of the year
Shaun Wane took his first press conference since his announcement to step-down at the end of the year

“You’d think we’d lost, wouldn’t you?”

A lot has changed in Shaun Wane’s tenure as Wigan coach but one persistent theme – and persistent annoyance, for him – has been that when Wigan have been beaten, more reporters turn up at his next press conference.

When things are going well and they are getting the result, they keep away.

A week ago, preparing for the Magic Weekend on the back of a seven-game winning streak, there were two reporters.

Yesterday, the Pat Richards video room contained 15 reporters and two cameramen. Sky Sports outside, too.

All there to speak to him for the first time since his bombshell decision to step down at the end of the year.

In an emotional 20-minute interview, Wane reiterated his comments in his press release and echoed remarks published in this newspaper yesterday, that he feels the time is right for a new challenge and he is open to offers. He was also asked about Catalans, rugby union and the NRL.

But first, the reason for his decision.

“I’ve had a fantastic time but everything comes to an end,” he said. “I just feel the time is right.

“I just want to do something different, and challenge myself in a different way.

“It’s been on my mind a long time. It just felt I needed something new, and the time is right.”

On a Monday night radio show, league legend Garry Schofield, Wane’s former Leeds team-mate, had suggested his reason was sparked by Wigan’s recruitment of Zak Hardaker as Sam Tomkins’ replacement.

“To say that would be a reason would be way off the mark,” said Wane. “Zak’s a fantastic player, I really admire him and I would love to have coached him.”

He said his contact with Scotland RU has only gone as far as visiting their set-up, and he pointed out he has also been to the England and Ireland camps, too, as part of his constant quest to improve.

“I’ve been to American basketball more than anything,” he said.

While a move to the NBA would seem fanciful, he isn’t limiting his future work to rugby league or, indeed, this country.

“I’m a professional coach and I feel I have a lot to offer,” he said. “I’ve been in a fantastic high-performance set-up for a long time.

“This performance model we have here is fantastic, and would work in any sporting environment, in any sport.

“I’d love to be in the NRL. Whether they’d accept an Englishman I’m not sure. But I’m completely open.”

While a role as a defence coach in union could appeal – being in charge of a department – Wane all-but ruled out reverting to being an assistant in league again.

“If I was to stay in league, I couldn’t assistant someone,” he said. “I need to be in charge.

“The toughest two years were working with Michael Maguire – enjoyable, but tough – because there were two people there who were both head coaches. He had strong opinions and so did I. In this sport I’d need to be in charge.”

Chairman Ian Lenagan has said he could not envisage Wane coaching against his hometown club. Wane disagreed.

“I could see it happening,” he said. “It would hurt me but I’m a professional coach.

“I need a job. But I’ve got to October and my prime focus is giving the Wigan fans something to cheer for.”

Lenagan, he said, was “shocked” and “speechless” when he broke the news to them last week.

Despite the uncertainty, Wane doesn’t see his decision as a gamble.

“Honestly I don’t,” he said. “When I joined in 2010 I took a massive pay cut. I went home to my missus and said, ‘Wigan have offered me the job but this is the situation.’

“In two years I lost £120,000. It’s a lot of money, I had two kids, and a mortgage.

“But she backed me all the way and it paid off.”

Wane told the players on Monday morning at the same time as a statement of his decision was released by the club.

Asked how the meeting was, he replied: “Emotional. Very.”

He paused. Took a sip of water and composed himself.

Asked what he wanted now, he added: “I just want to get back to work and winning games.”