Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves: Shaun Wane prepares to ‘bite the bullet’ in Grand Final

Heading off: Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane.
Heading off: Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane.
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THE revelation that he could be working as little as one day per week for Scottish Rugby makes Shaun Wane’s imminent departure from his beloved Wigan Warriors all the more strange.

The 54-year-old head coach will end his five-decade-long association with his home-town club tonight when he hopes to bow out as a Super League champion once more at Old Trafford.

It was my decision so now I’m going to bite the bullet, go into another job, something in a different code and make the best of it.

Shaun Wane

It was in May that Wane made the shock announcement he would be leaving the Cherry and Whites and a further month later when it was revealed he would cross codes to work as Scottish Rugby’s high performance coach.

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That was surreal enough – the gruff Wiganer lives and breathes rugby league – but in the build-up to this evening’s Grand Final against Warrington Wolves he added detail about the role.

Asked if he ever envisaged returning to the 13-man code, Wane, a no-nonsense prop who won Great Britain honours, said: “I do. I’m going to a job at Scotland where it’s one or two days a week and I’m leaving a job where I do eight days a week.

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“I’ve done that for many years so that’s going to take some getting used to. I have a (building) business in Wigan so that will take a bit of my time up, but going into a job where I’m not going to be doing that much is something I need to get my head round.

“So I’m going to keep watching Wigan, keep watching rugby league; I’m a league man. Never say never. I could be back in league some time.”

Wane, coach for seven years since being promoted from assistant when Australian Michael Maguire headed home, is bidding for a third Super League title and he also masterminded a World Club Challenge and Challenge Cup success during his tenure.

He maintains it was “100 per cent” his own decision to stand down even if he has questioned that decision at times since.

For instance, after the original announcement Wigan went on a three-match losing run; back then, Old Trafford seemed as distant as Murrayfield.

“We got beat by Warrington in the Challenge Cup and I did think, ‘what have I done opening my mouth?’” said Wane, who joined Wigan at the age of 14 and served as player, scout, Academy coach, assistant and more.

“Every day I think I enjoy being with the players, I enjoy video meetings, I enjoy interacting with them. But I made the decision.

“It was my decision so now I’m going to bite the bullet, go into another job, something in a different code and make the best of it.”

He moved once before, joining Leeds as a player between 1990 and 1993, retiring the following season with Workington Town.

“At Wigan it was pure love for the club and, when I went to Leeds as good as Leeds was as a club it was a job,” he recalled.

“I lost something and this will be the same. This (Scotland) is a job. I work eight days a week here. I work hard. When I go home I work. But it’s not real work for me even though it takes up all my time; it’s enjoyable.”

Wane knows he will be emotional this evening, but is adamant that will be “managed” as his side seek to deliver a record-extending 22nd championship.

If they defend like they did beating Castleford Tigers 14-0 in last week’s semi-final, you sense not even any of the great Wigan sides before – Ellery Hanley, Shaun Edwards, Andy Gregory et al – would deny them that prize.

Warrington, who finished fourth to Wigan’s second, have their own narrative having not won the league since 1955 and suffered a shock Challenge Cup final defeat to Catalans in August.

However, with fellow Wiganer Sam Tomkins, England star John Bateman and Ryan Sutton – a prop moulded in Wane’s own style – all leaving, too, many feel in-form Warriors will remain unbowed.