Scottish Rugby has dipped into the rival code to pluck Wigan Warriors head coach Shaun Wane as their new high performance coach with responsibility at all levels of the game.
Wane, 53, who has coached Wigan to two Super League titles and a double in 2013, will cross codes from league to union at the end of his current contract, which expires at the end of the current Super League season.
The Warriors currently lie second in the Super League table but it was announced last month that Wane’s seven year spell at the club would come to an end this summer, and Murraytfield has swooped to secure his services.
It’s not the first major appointment by the Scots from league – Graham Steadman, formerly the national team’s defence coach, came from the other code – but it’s a significant move that unquestionably has strong input from national head coach Gregor Townsend.
Townsend spent some time with Wigan observing their coaching techniques and built strong links between the Glasgow Warriors and the rugby league giants during his time at Scotstoun.
Wane said: “I see this as a fantastic opportunity to not only impart what I have learnt over my career in rugby league as a player and coach, but also to learn myself from union and look to support the excellent work already being done in Scotland.”
Wane was a hard-running forward with Wigan as a player, totting up 149 appearances for the club in the 1980s, winning two caps for Great Britain, before going over to coaching and coming assistant head coach at Wigan in 2009.
He took over from Michael Maguire two years later and led the Warriors to two league titles, a Challenge Cup and a World Club Challenge victory.
His main focus will be on prioritising “defensive technique and understanding, handling and agility skills for front five forwards and mindset”, with a particular concentration on the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy.
He added: “The Scottish way of playing the game is fast, highly skilled and positive and that is something I want to contribute to, and help develop further.
“It is a fresh challenge for me, but the chance to work across all the teams and age-grades, with the BT Sport Academy players, both male and female, was an opportunity I am excited to take.”
Townsend is a long-time admirer of Wane, and was happy to confirm he was coming to Murrayfield as the Scots party left Argentina at the conclusion of their summer tour.
“There is a lot we can learn from Shaun in both the technical side of the game as well as wider aspects of coaching,” he s aid.
“The range of skills now needed across the pitch in rugby union, aligned with the style of play we are developing means that all our players have to be able to pass accurately and deploy effective lines of running that will either hold defenders or find space.
“What Shaun brings from rugby league is immediately transferable and will add real value.”
Townsend now has his full coaching team in place for the new season, with ex-Cardiff Blues coach Danny Wilson having been confirmed as forwards and setpiece specialist last week. His long-term lieutenant Matt Taylor, although reportedly courted by England this summer, seems set to stay as defensive specialist.