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Wales face battle for Edwards

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Wales' battle to hang on to Edwards ramps up

Wigan Warriors owner Ian Lenagan isn’t ruling out an approach for Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards.

He’s on the hunt for a new head coach after Shaun Wane announced his departure to move to rugby union and take up a role as Scottish Rugby high performance coach at the end of the Super League season.

“You always have a view of a handful of coaches who you’d like to see coaching Wigan or in rugby league. Of course, Shaun Edwards would be among those anywhere.” Lenagan told the News & Star.

“Wigan is obviously a marquee club and it would be one of the best jobs in rugby league I suspect. Whether you’re talking about UK-based or Australian coaches, I would imagine there’ll be a high degree of interest,” he added.

“But it’s too early in the process to comment. I’ve been getting phone calls all from people who want to come and take the Wigan job.”

Earlier this month Wales head coach Warren Gatland spoke of his hope that Edwards wound remain as his defence coach through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but will not stand in his way if other opportunities arise.

Edwards has been a trusty lieutenant of Gatland since joining the New Zealander’s backroom team in 2008, with Wales winning three Six Nations titles in that time.

The future of Edwards has been the topic of much debate, with England on the lookout for a new defence coach following Paul Gustard’s decision to take the top job with Premiership side Harlequins, while a return to rugby league is another option.

Addressing Edwards’ future, Gatland told reporters: “He’s committed to us until the World Cup.”

“But if other opportunities come along, he needs to consider those because he’s out of contract after the World Cup.

“There are two or three world-class defensive coaches out there and he’s definitely one of them.”

Meanwhile Wigan’s head coach Wane last month revealed he would leave his hometown club to see a new challenge and declared that he was “open to anything”.

Scottish Rugby pounced to secure his services and on Monday announced that Wane, who has masterminded two Super League triumphs for Wigan, will switch codes to work closely with elite coaches at all levels on a consultancy basis.

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Wane said: “I see this as a fantastic opportunity to not only impart what I have learnt over my career in rugby league as a player and coach, but also to learn myself from union and look to support the excellent work already being done in Scotland.

“The Scottish way of playing the game is fast, highly skilled and positive and that is something I want to contribute to, and help develop further.

“It is a fresh challenge for me, but the chance to work across all the teams and age-grades, with the BT Sport Academy players, both male and female, was an opportunity I am excited to take.”

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said: “There is a lot we can learn from Shaun in both the technical side of the game as well as wider aspects of coaching.

“The range of skills now needed across the pitch in rugby union, aligned with the style of play we are developing means that all our players have to be able to pass accurately and deploy effective lines of running that will either hold defenders or find space.

“What Shaun brings from rugby league is immediately transferrable and will add real value.”

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Wales' battle to hang on to Edwards ramps up