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Edwards' deal just a handshake

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'I have done business on many occasions on the basis of an oral agreement over a handshake'

Shaun Edwards has told Wigan he wants more time to consider his future as confusion continues to surround the Super League champions’ coaching situation.

Edwards, a Warriors great and a mainstay of the Welsh rugby union coaching setup for the last decade, appeared at a press conference last summer to unveil him as Wigan’s new boss for 2020 and beyond.

However, in the wake of Wales’ Six Nations Grand Slam success last weekend, Edwards said he had not signed a contract with Wigan and would effectively be unemployed at the end of the Rugby World Cup.

Wigan said they would clarify Edwards’ comments and on Friday released a statement in which chairman Ian Lenagan said: “During our conversations, Shaun asked for more time to consider his options. I agreed to his request and fully understand his reasons for doing so.”

Edwards was announced as Wigan’s 2020 coach last August, with another former player, Adrian Lam, holding the fort until then after the departure of Shaun Wane.

(Continue reading below…)

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But with the situation now at a crossroads, Lenagan says he is blaming himself for failing to mention Edwards had not signed a contract to return to Wigan.

“Wigan Warriors Rugby League club’s position is that it has an oral agreement with Shaun Edwards to become head coach from 2020, cemented by a handshake and announced publicly in a press conference by both parties in August 2018,” Lenagan wrote in a statement.

“I take full responsibility for missing out the mention of a signed contract in Wigan’s press release at the time of Shaun’s appointment. I have done business on many occasions on the basis of an oral agreement over a handshake.

“Shaun and I have known each other for a long time, have great respect for each other and share a passion for all things Wigan – of course the main focus for that being Wigan Warriors and its supporters.”

Lenagan added that after announcing Edwards’ appointment, the club had left the 52-year-old to focus on wrapping up his duties with Wales. The club still want Edwards to take over as planned, but Lenagan will not hold him to his “oral agreement” if he wishes to pursue another job.

Wigan’s Shaun Edwards holding the trophy in 1996 after winning the Save and Prosper Middlesex Sevens match against Wasps at Twickenham (Photo: Dave Rogers/Allsport)

“Rather than debating the merits and legalities of an oral or written agreement, I have had constructive dialogue with Shaun this week to make it clear that, despite our desire for him to take up the Wigan Warriors head coach role as agreed, we would not attempt to hold Shaun to any agreement – disputed or otherwise – if he now preferred to take up a different option,” he said.

“It is obvious we need to clear up this situation as quickly as possible in a dignified manner for the best interests of Wigan Warriors and Shaun. It is proving to be a difficult and emotive situation for us all to navigate, but I am determined to provide our loyal fans with the clarity they deserve once Shaun has come to his decision. We will support whatever decision he reached.”

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'I have done business on many occasions on the basis of an oral agreement over a handshake'