Wane named new England rugby league coach

Ian Laybourn
Wayne Bennett's time as England rugby league coach is officially over

Former Wigan boss Shaun Wane has been appointed as England's new rugby league coach.

The 55-year-old takes over from Australian Wayne Bennett on a two-year contract which will take in this year's home Ashes series and the 2021 World Cup.

Wane left Wigan after guiding his hometown team to a third grand final at the end of the 2018 season and has spent the last year working as high performance coach for the Scottish Rugby Union.

Wane said: "I am honoured to be appointed head coach of my country's national team at such an exciting and important time for rugby league in England.

"Everyone who knows me knows that I've always loved the game of rugby league and been proud of British rugby league.

"I'm looking forward so much to starting work with the outstanding rugby league players we have in this country and also the guys who have enjoyed success in Australia in recent years, to do all we can to win the World Cup next year."

The appointment brings to an end the four-year reign of Bennett, who 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.

Bennett's part-time contract with the Rugby Football League ended after that tour and the decision not to renew it raises question marks over the future of RFL rugby director Kevin Sinfield, who was a big supporter of the veteran South Sydney coach.

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer, who recently admitted that ticket sales for the Ashes series would be a consideration when it came to appointing the next coach, says it is time for a change of direction with a full-time UK-based man in charge.

Rimmer, who with Sinfield carried out a review into the Lions tour, said: "We think this is an exciting appointment that will be welcomed by England rugby league supporters as we prepare for this year's Ashes series and the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

"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."