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Shaun Wane: England head coach reaps rewards from simple approach

The England head coach has one overriding message for those in other sports who have sought out his advice on his success in rugby league – “this is only my view, but people love to complicate simple things,” says Wane

Last Updated: 15/01/21 5:44pm

Shaun Wane is a big believer in not over-complicating when it comes to coaching

The idea of ‘keep it simple, stupid’ may have its origins as a United States Navy design principle, but it is one Shaun Wane has embraced during his rugby league coaching career as well.

It is an approach that has yielded plenty of success for Wane: Three Super League titles, one Challenge Cup and one World Club Challenge triumph as Wigan Warriors head coach, followed by being named as the man to lead the England national team at this year’s Rugby League World Cup.

It is one of the biggest pieces of advice he passes on too, having spent much of his time while international matches are on hold during the Covid-19 pandemic exchanging ideas with other elite sportspeople as part of his continuing coaching development.

Shaun Wane: England head coach reaps rewards from simple approach

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“This is only my view, but people love to complicate simple things,” Wane said. “I was watching Huddersfield and Hull when Huddersfield had a chance to have a drop goal at the end, and the pass was above [Huddersfield half-back Aidan] Sezer’s head and he couldn’t get the drop goal away.

“When everybody was talking about the game afterwards, it was all about lack of field position and things like that, but it wasn’t – the skill level was poor. The simple things, your catch-pass, your tackle – don’t feel the need to over-complicate it and impress everyone with field position and things like that.

“That’s the thing at the end, field position and the little technical things, but get your catch-pass and tackle technique good – and it’s the same in football and golf.

“People feel the need to complicate simple things – and there’s nobody worse than rugby league for that! – and that’s what I drive home. Make sure your core skill is the best it can be.”

Shaun Wane: England head coach reaps rewards from simple approach

People feel the need to complicate simple things – and there’s nobody worse than rugby league for that! – and that’s what I drive home. Make sure your core skill is the best it can be.

Shaun Wane

The likes of former England and Chelsea footballer John Terry, now on the coaching staff at Aston Villa, and golfer Lee Westwood are among those Wane has been consulting and offering advice to recently – and both could play some part in England’s World Cup preparations.

The 56-year-old is delighted to see such high-profile names from other sports take an interest in the workings of rugby league to benefit themselves too, having even experienced that when he spent time watching NFL side Jacksonville Jaguars train.

“They were asking us where we were from and what was rugby league,” Wane said.

“We got out our laptop and showed them a few games like Wigan and Saints where they were smashing each other, and they were screaming at their mates to come ’round to our screen and watch this game.

Wane found a fascinated audience when he visited Jacksonville Jaguars

Wane found a fascinated audience when he visited Jacksonville Jaguars

“They were asking us what the players wore, and we showed them a jersey and they couldn’t believe it. We were there all day and the coaching staff and players couldn’t get enough of us. It fascinates me how much people think of our game.”

As much as he is enjoying learning from and advising those in other sports though, Wane is itching to get the England squad together once the pandemic subsides, after being unable to do so despite being in his job nearly a year.

He has instead had to keep in touch with players and staff via regular Zoom meetings, along with advising those involved in the England women’s and wheelchair teams. However, nothing beats getting to work with the team on the training ground.

“I need to get back on the field with players, and train and work out ways of winning games because I’m missing it so much,” said Wane, whose last rugby league game as a coach to date was Wigan’s 2018 Super League Grand Final triumph.

Shaun Wane: England head coach reaps rewards from simple approach

I need to get back on the field with players, and train and work out ways of winning games because I’m missing it so much.

Shaun Wane

“Frustrating is not the word, it’s something deeper than that because I live and breathe coaching rugby league players – and I’ve not done it for a while now.

“The last game I won was in 2018 and it was an important one, so I need to be on the field coaching players.

“Making the best of it is what I do and that’s over Zoom at the moment, but I can’t wait to get on the field and start coaching and training players again.”


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