Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan on Shaun Edwards saga, and plans for future appointment

Wigan Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan says he won’t change his approach to choosing head coaches after the ‘blip’ of Shaun Edwards’ U-turn.

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 6:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th April 2019, 7:59 pm
Ian Lenagan

Edwards confirmed earlier this week he would not be taking the hot seat at Wigan next season as had previously been agreed.

But Lenagan insists the outcome would have been no different had the handshake agreement in place been a written contract.

“The prime feeling is disappointment because he is one of the leading coaches in the world and we thought we had him coming next year,” the Warriors’ owner told BBC Radio Manchester’s Rugby League Extra tonight.

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“There were issues about a non-signed contract etc raised, but I've done deals on handshakes in the past and this time circumstances have changed.

“This is a blip.

“I’m very sorry to the fans we didn't deliver, but even if he had signed and his circumstances had changed we'd have let him away from the contract.

“On the issue of choosing good coaches, we at Wigan, and I, have done it for 12 years and we've done rather well. We’re not changing anything for a hiccup for genuine reasons.”

While admitting Edwards’ decision was disappointing, Lenagan insists the club has moved on from the saga, and revealed he would be happy to have interim coach Adrian Lam in charge next season.

“Things have changed and we move on,” he said.

“I think Adrian has added a lot already in terms of style and his own character.

“Shaun Wane was difficult to take over from in terms of achievements and the only thing Adrian hasn't done is get us into top five at this stage but we have had difficulties in injuries and some other things. He has shown he has capabilities and he is a serious contender to continue the job.”

In the wake of Edwards’ decision to stay in rugby union, following a drawn-out period of speculation sparked by his comments made after Wales’ Six Nations success of not having signed a contract, Lenagan also moved to praise the former club captain’s honesty.

“He has also quite rightly made the point that rugby league is a different game and his skill set is coaching in rugby union which is not quite the same attacking game rugby league is,” Lenagan explained.

In a press conference last August, Edwards explained he didn’t have an issue with the time he had spent out of rugby league, stating: “In the end, the game is still the same; there’s big men in the middle, you need two tricky halfbacks and on top of that, you need a tricky hooker who will understand the game.

“The game was like that when my heroes played for Wigan in the 1950s, and it will look like that in another 40 years too, I think.”

But in this week’s statement released by Wigan, he said: “This is about Wigan Warriors getting the best man for the job which, at the moment, I feel is not me.

"I feel Wigan need a more experienced rugby league head coach than myself, to give the club and the people of Wigan the best team possible."

And Lenagan moved to praise the honesty of Edwards.

“Taking view he isn't quite good enough is a typical Shaun Edwards move - it's got honesty written all over it. It's honest, open and sensible,” he said.

“The honesty is such from the man you have to accept it.”

Warriors can now turn their attention to tomorrow’s derby with St Helens.

More than 21,000 tickets have already been sold with the South Stand sold out and limited availability in the Springfield and Boston Stands.

“I think we’ll get pretty close to a sellout,” said Lenagan.