Shaun Wane: Wigan Warriors coach to leave club at end of 2018 season

Wigan coach Shaun Wane with the Challenge Cup
Shaun Wane has won five trophies during his time as head coach of Wigan

Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane is to leave the club at the end of the 2018 Super League season.

Former Wigan forward Wane, 53, was initially Michael Maguire's assistant before he succeeded him as head coach at the start of the 2012 campaign.

Wane has led Wigan to two Super League Grand Final wins, a Challenge Cup, League Leaders' Shield and World Club Challenge during his time at the helm.

"I feel that now is the right time for me to seek a new challenge," he said.

"These accolades have given me both personal and professional satisfaction and the memories will remain with me evermore."

Wane, who is Wigan's longest-serving coach in the Super League era, will end a long association with the club that started when he made his first-team debut as a player in 1982.

''Shaun will leave Wigan in the knowledge that his place in the club's history is guaranteed," chairman Ian Lenagan said.

"I feel certain that his decision to leave will have been a difficult one but he is a winner who wants to advance his career and challenge himself further on a different stage, having won everything with Wigan."

The Cherry and Whites are second in Super League and two points behind leaders St Helens, but have a game in hand.

Wigan Warriors win the 2017 World Club Challenge
Wane's Wigan won the 2017 World Club Challenge and are the only English champions to win the annual event against their Australian counterparts in the past six editions

Analysis

BBC rugby league correspondent Dave Woods

This is a rarity in rugby league - a story that has come as a complete bolt from the blue.

Shaun Wane has personified the Wigan club in the past few years, stamping his style and authority on his side.

Wherever he goes next, it is likely to be as a head coach - he has always insisted he hates the idea of being an assistant - so that makes a switch to rugby union unlikely.

This is all pure speculation at this stage, but he may be eyeing up a job in Australia's NRL. Or it could be that he will take a temporary role as underling to Wayne Bennett, if he has been promised the role of England head coach when Bennett's contract runs out at the end of 2019.

But the strongest rumour at this stage has linked him with a position at Catalans Dragons. Two of the players he has nurtured, Sam Tomkins and Michael McIlorum, will both be playing there next year.

And his disciplined style may be appealing to the Dragons' owner Bernard Guasch.

But who next for Wigan?

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards, who has been linked with the England rugby union setup, has recently stated he would be interested in returning to rugby league if a head coach job was on offer. His hometown club, for whom he won every honour going as a player in the 1980s and 1990s, would be the perfect fit.

Paul Deacon, the highly rated ex-assistant coach at Wigan now plying his trade with rugby union side Sale, could be another name in the frame.

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