- Ian Lenagan looks ahead to new era at Wigan with the return of Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards
- Lenagan: “This is one of the best days for Wigan for a long, long time”
- Chairman is looking forward to the next five years and says it is a ‘change moving forward’
Ian Lenagan is looking forward to a new era at the Club after Adrian Lam and Shaun Edwards were announced to return in 2019 and 2020 respectively at Thursday’s press conference – a day that the Wigan Chairman and Owner believes is one of the best for a long time.
Speaking at the press conference at the DW Stadium, Lenagan said: “This is one of the best days for Wigan for a long, long time in terms of the appointment we’re announcing but also, I think it’s very good for rugby league as well.
“I think back over the 10 or 11 years since I’ve been involved at Wigan, this is one of the best and most important days and its significant and it marks a change moving forward. I think its good news all the way round.”
Lenagan admitted that Edwards was always first choice to replace Shaun Wane and praised Lam for his eagerness to take on a one-year contract with the Warriors.
“We said at the beginning when Shaun Wane announced he was going to leave that we would go through a process which was the right process but let’s be clear Shaun Edwards was always our first choice in terms of the head coach role,” Lenagan said.
“His integrity in wanting to complete his work with Wales is very commendable from our view point. And Adrian and the specialness that he realises that even one year at Wigan as Head Coach will get him the jobs that he wants in the NRL and his commitment to Wigan, we couldn’t have a bet pair of people working with us.
“It symbolises a refresh by Wigan. It could not be better symbolised by the two people who are either side of me and Kris Radlinksi and were really looking forward to a new era to build on the successful one that Shaun Wane has left behind.”
Lam, Wigan’s 2002 Challenge Cup winning halfback, will return to the Club to take up the interim Head Coach position for the 2019 season.
Lenagan said: “I’ve known Adrian for about 10 years. I’ve actually interviewed him on at least two occasions for Wigan jobs in the past but most of us know him as such a highly successful Wigan player for that three or four years that he played here. It was interesting that the first time I spoke to Shaun Edwards about the possibility of Adrian being the Interim Head Coach, Shaun’s respect for Adrian as a player was very, very substantial and that felt very good from my view as well. I know him from the last 10 years with his involvement with Sydney Roosters, with Papa New Guinea on the national team and with the Australian team and his support roles there for Mal Meninga and various other people. I think those two people are very special people.”
Edwards, a Wigan Hall of Famer will return to the Club as Head Coach for the 2020 season after signing a three-year contract that will start once his commitments with the Wales Rugby Union side end after the World Cup.
“We all know what a legend in rugby league terms Shaun is with his nine Challenge Cup medals, eight Championships and myriad of other medals, awards and honours from Man of Steel on around,” Lenagan said.
“The thing I like the best about Shaun is not just that, it’s his character. It’s what he will bring to Wigan, particularly from a success in rugby union for what I think is probably what 15/18 years, something of that order. Rugby League is a personal business still and I remember Shaun Edwards particularly at Wembley as a 17 or 18-year-old when he skipped under the posts to score that try for a Wigan fan that was a great start for me. Manley in 1987 we still always talk about and his role in that but probably my most special memory of Shaun Edwards as a Wigan fan was at Brisbane in 1994 in front of 54,000 people and there weren’t many Wiganers there that day but I remember watching him coaching in the warm up before they then went on to record what was one of the greatest wins that Wigan have ever had – that’s what Shaun Edwards symbolises as far as I’m concerned. His 10 tries against Swinton in the Lancashire cup were another aspect of his capability but its his coaching skills that are very important to us.
“It’s a pair of very good appointments as far as Wigan is concerned. To put it into perspective, Shaun Wane himself has obviously laid a very good, successful career over the last seven years for Wigan and on those foundations are what Adrian first of all and then Shaun will be building for a considerable number of extra years. John Winder who is our current Assistant Coach has a very important role to play throughout all of that period because he is the glue that joins it all together. And the experience that he can gain from working under two more superb head coaches as well as his period with Shaun Wane I think will set him well fair to be a Super League coach in his own right in the future so he has a very important part.”
Wigan Director of Rugby Kris Radlinksi said: “It’s absolutely not a risk. I love the fact Adrian has got an incredible career under his built and he’s still prepared to learn at this stage.
“Shaun was absolutely over the moon when he realised that Adrian would be looking after his team for a year so I see them working very, very closely and it’s a very calculated decision based on knowledge and experience. I came in as a youngster into the all conquer Wigan team where standards were driven hard and where you weren’t allowed to drop a ball in training and where Shaun obviously controlled what happened on that field and he drove the standards of everybody.
“It’s fair to say that Lammy will have a bit of a more relaxed approach and his team that he puts forward will be playing with a smile on their face and I don’t think they’ll be afraid of taking risks as he wants people to really enjoy their rugby and somewhere in the middle of that is the perfect scenario. These two are going to bring so much to the experiences guys and to the younger players also.”