Mike Forshaw inspired by old team-mate Shaun Edwards but vows to do job his way

Wales defence coach Mike Forshaw acknowledged the impact Shaun Edwards has made on him but insists he will do the job his own way.

Forshaw’s fellow Wiganer enjoyed sustained success with Wales in the same role that Forshaw now has.

The current France defence specialist played a key part in Wales winning four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and reaching two World Cup semi-finals during Warren Gatland’s first stint as Wales boss between 2008 and 2019.

Former Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards
Shaun Edwards enjoyed considerable success during his time as Wales defence coach (Ben Birchall/PA)

Forshaw and Edwards played in Wigan’s 1991 World Club Challenge victory over Penrith Panthers at Anfield, with both of them enjoying long rugby league careers.

“On January 23, which was my first day here, I did a bit of an ice-breaker and showed three slides,” Forshaw said.

“One of them was a picture of me and Shaun playing together, and I said to the lads ‘if I have half the impact this fella did, then I will be doing alright’.

“I know him very well, but we haven’t really done much tactical work. I am my own man and believe in what I do myself.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Shaun. He is a good friend and we go back a long way. I had a few texts with Shaun when it was announced I was coming into this position.”

Forshaw joined Wales’ coaching staff from Gallagher Premiership club Sale Sharks, recruited by Gatland among three new arrivals alongside Alex King and Jonathan Thomas.

“The job came pretty left-field, to be honest,” he added. “I have really enjoyed my first three weeks, I really have.

“I am not too despondent because we lost the first game (34-10 against Ireland). I didn’t expect fairy-tale starts anyway.

“I have just turned 53, and I thought that if there is ever going to be a job available in international rugby this is probably the one I would love to have been offered.

“That sounds a bit corny, but it’s not. There has obviously been a lot of transition from the autumn with a lot of changes, and then obviously with Warren, I just thought it was too good an opportunity – a World cup coming up.

“I had been at Sale 10 years and I think hopefully they will go on and win the Premiership this year, to be fair.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland is in his second stint as Wales head coach (Nigel French/PA)

“I spoke to my wife, I spoke to people like Shaun, Andy Farrell, and the fit was right.

“I had never met Warren Gatland, but our paths were a bit similar – like a sixth sense. I had an hour on the phone with him.

“I worked in Galway at Connacht Rugby for three years – he had worked there earlier. I have a lot of good friends in Galway who are Warren’s friends. The fit just seemed really good.”