Shaun Edwards has revealed his decision to turn his back on Wigan hit him hard – but he says the Warriors are better off without him under the guidance of Adrian Lam.
And in a candid interview, Edwards revealed he has become "close friends" with Lam - and has tipped him to lead them to Grand Final glory next month.
Wigan legend Edwards, the most decorated player in rugby league history, will leave his role as defence coach of Wales after the World Cup in Japan.
In August of last year Wigan unveiled Edwards as their head coach for 2020, but the 52-year-old made a U-turn and pulled out of the deal last March.
Lam has since turned around the Warriors' fortunes and been handed a deal for next year.
“It was difficult with Wigan. Very difficult. It’s probably better off left unsaid. I am looking to the future now,” said Edwards as he opened up on his next steps for the first time since March.
“Lammy and I are still close friends and message each other after matches.
“He said Wigan would struggle at the start of the season with Zak Hardaker and all those new players coming in, but by the end of the season they would be OK.
“I said Wigan needed a more experienced rugby league coach than me and I was right – they are now doing well.
"I will be staying in union, Lammy takes over at Wigan, and it’s all good.
“There is no negative in my view. I stay in rugby union which I’m used to and Lammy is an experienced rugby league coach who is doing a fantastic job.
"I think Wigan will win Super League again this year. It would be the first time Wigan have gone back-to-back too and I think they’ll do it.”
Edwards won 25 major trophies in a glittering Wigan spell, but his next move after Wales is set to be with France. The deal is yet to officially be confirmed, but it is understood to be close.
“I’ll be at the next World Cup because I am going to France,” Edwards laughed.
“It’s not been announced. There are a few things to sort out so it’s not definite, but I’ll be staying in rugby union.
“I’ve gone into the last two World Cups knowing if we don’t do well I’ll have no job afterwards. I prefer to be on edge.”
Edwards has worked with Wales since 2008 and has been a central figure under Warren Gatland as the Dragons have claimed three Six Nations Grand Slams.
A World Cup is one trophy which has escaped Edwards in his career to date, but he hopes that will change with Wales in Japan.
“We have done a lot of good things in the last 18 months, but you have got to do it when it matters and it is going to really matter over the next two months,” Edwards said.
“We have performed relatively well at World Cups so far, but I am a little bit sick of watching everybody else in the final. That’s how I work.
“There is only one defence coach in the northern hemisphere who has ever won the World Cup and that’s Phil Larder. Phil was a great mentor to me. He led the way for people from rugby league to come into rugby union. I have set myself a little target of trying to get into a final.”