'High-profile' rugby union players interested in switching codes, says Shaun Edwards
By Keith Moore
Last Updated: 11/08/18 1:21pm
Shaun Edwards OBE says he has spoken to "high-profile" rugby union players who have expressed an interest in switching codes.
Edwards was a guest on the Golden Point Special on Friday night following the announcement he would take the reigns at Wigan in 2020, and the 51-year-old said he had conversations with players earlier in the week in which they indicated they would like to make a move into rugby league in the future.
"I've had spoken to a couple of players - very high-profile players - in the last 24 hours, and they've put an interest about coming to rugby league in about three or four years' time," Edwards told Sky Sports' Brian Carney. "I won't tell you who they are, but they're very, very high profile."
If there are to be players making the switch, Wigan will hope Edwards can attract them to the club as they have lost some big names this season; John Bateman announced this week he will be joining Sam Tomkins and Ryan Sutton in leaving the club at the end of the current campaign. Edwards believes it is up to the Warriors to build an ethos that attracts talent to the club.
"We have to make Wigan a place where people enjoy playing," said the current Wales defence coach. "A little bit like Saracens in rugby union.
"People go to Saracens for probably less money than they go to somewhere else, because they know they're going to an environment where number one they have fun, number two they become better players, and number three they are usually challenging for honours. That's what we need to create here."
Adrian Lam, Wigan's interim coach for 2019, joined Edwards and Carney in studio, and said he still believes the core group of senior heads are still at the club, and that he and Edwards could offer a fresh insight to those who choose to stay.
"Whilst Wigan are losing some senior players, they still have a great senior crew and group therein; (Sean) O'Loughlin, (Thomas) Leuluai and (Liam) Farrell - and (George) Williams for that matter," said Lam.
"I think two half-backs [as coaches] - if I was George I'd be excited about that because, with all respect to Shaun (Wane), he's a front rower.
"We can work with him really well and make sure in his instance that he develops into the player he needs to be, or wants to be."
Asked why he had chosen to make the switch to rugby league, Edwards indicated it boiled down to a desire to win titles in the code that brought him so much silverware as a player.
"I'll be straight with you, I took a risk," Edwards said. "I am pretty well thought of in rugby union, and maybe for the next 10 or 15 years I would have had some form of employment - I wouldn't say guaranteed but there's a lot of competitions in rugby union and each team has five or six coaches.
"There's the Celtic league, there's the Top 14 - I speak a bit of French - I've obviously won four English Premierships and there's Super Rugby.
"So there's a lot of employment in rugby union, but there was still a burning desire in my soul somewhere to challenge for some rugby league titles."
Edwards says any concerns he may have had by making the move have been dispelled by conversations he's had with Lam.
"Do you know what's made it better? Having chats with Lammy over the last couple of days," Edwards said.
"We've both got exactly the same ideas about how the game should be played - it couldn't have been a better fit really. We both don't believe in over-coaching, we believe in playing to structure but not too much structure, and we believe in taking risks.
"I've took a risk coming from rugby union, he's took a risk coming from his home in Australia with his family - so why would we not ask our players to take risks when they're on the rugby pitch?"
Lam echoed Edwards' sentiments about Wigan's playing philosophy going forward.
"No doubt about it, we want to play an open style of rugby, and you'll see that next year," said the Papua New Guinea international.
Given Lam's unique situation where he is only interim coach for a year, Carney asked if he would consider staying on at the club under Edwards in the event of a dream campaign of winning the treble in 2019.
"I think we'll weigh that up when that comes," Lam said of the hypothetical scenario. "I'm excited about doing the job that we've got in front of us, I think this will be a great challenge, and if we're successful, well then we'll make that decision when it comes."
After hearing Lam's response, Edwards quipped: "If he wins the treble I'll be his assistant!"