Sky Sports' Rugby Union expert Will Greenwood tells us why outgoing Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane could spring a surprise and join England
Outgoing Wigan Warriors coach Shaun Wane could be a surprise pick as England’s new defence coach, says Sky Sports’ Rugby Union expert Will Greenwood.
Current England defence coach Paul Gustard will leave his post to become head of rugby at Harlequins after the summer tour of South Africa.
Gustard has been part of Eddie Jones’ coaching staff since the end of 2015, having played for Leicester, London Irish and Saracens during his career.
Greenwood believes Jones could make a left-field choice and opt for Wane, who has led Wigan to two Super League Grand Final wins, a Challenge Cup, League Leaders’ Shield and World Club Challenge.
Wane says he is open to switching codes when he leaves Wigan at the end of the season after six years as head coach.
Greenwood told Sky Sports News: “The real counter-twist out of left-field choice would be Shaun Wane. He’s left Wigan Warriors and won multiple titles.
“I think he’s the most successful coach in Super League history. I’ve been to watch him train at Wigan, the systems they have are in place all the way down from the academy to the senior team.
“Scott Quinell tells me they are just an awesome defensive machine because he gets them so well drilled and organised.
“It’s massively left-field but it’s not inconceivable that Eddie might go ‘I’m the top guy but I want someone to come in with some new ideas’.”
Greenwood described the departure of Gustard as a ‘”massive blow” to Jones’ England setup and insists whoever steps into his role will have very little time to make an impact before the 2019 World Cup.
He added: “He’s a quite brilliant young coach who has done wonders with Saracens down the years. He’s come in and been an integral part of England’s 19 on the spin.
“I think Eddie would view it slightly less dramatically than me, he’s much more happy with a fluid system of coaches changing with new ideas coming in.
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“Paul’s going to work with the squad in South Africa so whoever replaces him, in reality, is going to get four autumn internationals, the Six Nations and then a couple of warm-up games. Whoever comes in has not got a huge amount of time.
“Gustard said to me, ‘how long do you think I get with this England team per week on defence?’ and bear in mind 50 per cent of rugby is attack, 50 per cent is defence. I guessed ‘a couple of hours?’. He said: ‘ No, 27 minutes to the second is all we get’.
“So if you think about the new guy only gets around nine lots of 27 minutes, that’s four hours, that’s all he gets.
“If you’re going to get someone in he has to hit the ground running. That’s where it becomes an issue which England have had for the past 15-20 years.
“Shaun Edwards, but he’s with the Welsh Rugby Union and Warren Gatland is not going to let him go. But, if you want the best person for the job with the limited time available and the enormity of the World Cup coming up, that world-class international experience, the obvious name would be Shaun Edwards.
“If they can’t get him, Alex Sanderson and Brad Davis, who’s now down at Ospreys, has done some super work with both Bath and Wasps.
“The other option Australian rugby league legend [Andrew Johns] he has brought in a couple of times, who’s come in to work alongside Gustard, he might actually get brought in full-time.”