Shaun Edwards open to other offers

‘If I get an offer as a head coach in rugby league or rugby union, I will listen to it’

Shaun Edwards says he would listen to a head coach's offer "in rugby league or rugby union" if one came his way.

The Wales defence guru has been a key part of Warren Gatland’s coaching team since 2008 and will be out of contract after next year’s World Cup.

The former Wigan and Great Britain rugby league star previously enjoyed a successful club coaching career with Wasps when they dominated English and European rugby.

And he could easily be a man in demand following the 2019 tournament as Wales consider life after the departing Gatland.

Edwards faces a head to head with his former rugby league team-mate and Ireland defence specialist Andy Farrell when Wales continue their NatWest 6 Nations campaign on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Wales’ departure for Dublin and asked about any head coach ambition, Edwards said: “Potentially, I would be open to (head coach) offers, yes.

“I really do enjoy being involved in international rugby. It’s where I want to be, really, so whether that is as an assistant coach or a head coach, it doesn’t really bother me which way. As I said, if I get an offer as a head coach in rugby league or rugby union, I will listen to it.

"I think people just forget I was a head coach (with Wasps), and won every single major trophy in five years — Heineken Cup, English Premiership, Anglo-Welsh when it was a major trophy.

“Because I have been an assistant coach for eight years now — I wanted to be involved in international rugby — I think probably that gets forgotten a little bit.”

Edwards also praised Farrell, who was a coach on the last two British and Irish Lions tours, but said he believes his own coaching record stacks up “against anybody in world rugby”.

Edwards added: “Andy Farrell was an outstanding player — one of the best players I ever played with — and he has turned himself into an outstanding coach and has obviously done very well with the British Lions.

“I have got huge respect for Andy Farrell, and I would like to think he has got the same for me. We are friends off the pitch, we know each other’s families, but come Saturday, we are obviously opponents.

"I stick my record up against anybody in world rugby. The only person who has won more trophies than me is (New Zealander) Wayne Smith, and he is an absolute legend of coaching.

“I’ve won 13 major trophies — 10 as an assistant coach and three as a head coach. The only one I’ve not won is the World Cup.”

Wales have conceded the least number of points in this season's Six Nations, but they can expect a fierce examination from a team unbeaten at home since November 2016 and harbouring major title aspirations.

Wales will also keep themselves firmly in the mix for Six Nations silverware if they win, and Edwards said: "These are the games you remember for the rest of your life, big games like this.

“Ireland are a team who very rarely lose the ball. They wear teams down and they have two — I don’t use this term often — legendary half-backs.

“They have only lost one of their last 21 games at home, and that was to the All Blacks. They are a formidable opponent.”