New England boss Shaun Wane insists he returns to rugby league as a better coach
Shaun Wane says he is returning to rugby league as a better coach as he gets down to the business of attempting to win the 2021 World Cup with England.
The former Wigan coach, who has spent the last 12 months working for Scottish Rugby Union, has been appointed full-time to replace veteran Australian Wayne Bennett, who performed the role on a part-time basis over the last four years.
Wane was unveiled by the Rugby Football League at a press conference at the University of Bolton, where he confirmed that he has already begun work in his new role, having completed his job as head of performance in Glasgow.
“I’m glad I did it,” he said. “I looked at other sports. In my time with Scotland, I didn’t do much with the top squad but I looked at all the age groups and met some good people and learnt some important things which I will use.
“I am a league man but I have had time away and I think it’s made me a better coach.
“I have an open mind and I try to learn something every day and Scotland did some quality things. I can add to the good stuff that England are already doing.”
RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer, who admitted that ticket sales for the end-of-year Ashes Series would be a consideration when it came to appointing the next coach, said it was time for a change of direction with a full-time UK-based man in charge.
Rimmer, who with RFL rugby director Kevin Sinfield carried out a review into the disappointing Great Britain tour, said: “We think this is an exciting appointment that will be welcomed by England rugby league supporter.
“Shaun is passionate about the game and his country and is also an outstanding coach, as shown by his record in eight seasons as Wigan’s head coach, a major feature of which was the success he and the club had in developing so many home-grown players.”
Wane, who quit Wigan after guiding them to a third Grand Final success at the end of the 2018 season, told the press conference that he never envisaged one day coaching his country but is determined to make the most of his opportunity.
“I’m very, very patriotic and very passionate about my country and to get the chance to be head coach is the best feeling ever,” he said. “I am going to work as hard as I can to ensure success.”
Bennett steered England to the 2017 World Cup final but lost much credibility while in charge of the re-formed Great Britain team that lost all four matches on their recent tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
“I have spoken to Wayne,” Rimmer said. “He was philosophical, very disappointed because he had ambition to take us to the World Cup.
“But he was as professional as always and I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“He has brought us on a fantastic journey. I know the autumn didn’t turn out in the way we wanted it to but we shouldn’t forget how successful he has been.”
Bennett’s part-time contract ended after that tour and the decision not to renew it led directly to the resignation of Sinfield, who was in charge of the England performance unit and a big supporter of the South Sydney coach.
Wane will take on some of Sinfield’s duties but Rimmer says a new appointment will also be made.
“Kevin’s contribution has been huge but there is a strong structure there,” Rimmer said. “I can’t see me finding a like for like but there will be a replacement.”
Bennett was heavily criticised for fielding players out of position on the Lions tour and for selecting Australia-born players but Wane says he will not restrict himself to England-born players.
“I will pick players who are the best for England,” he said. “The one thing they need to be is really passionate. Whoever is going to deliver the wins will be in, it’s as simple as that.”
Rimmer says talks are ongoing about a mid-season international and Wane will be closely involved in the appointments of the rest of the backroom staff.