Shaun Wane to lead England into next World Cup after agreeing contract extension

Shaun Wane has been given the chance to rebuild England’s Rugby League World Cup dream after being handed a contract extension as head coach through to the end of the 2025 tournament.

England suffered a heart-breaking golden point defeat to Samoa in their semi-final at the Emirates Stadium in November which left the 58-year-old, who took over the role in February 2020, facing an uncertain future.

But after winning the backing of a series of major names, including captain Sam Tomkins and winger Tommy Makinson, Wane has been tasked with shaping a squad capable of over-turning the southern hemisphere dominance in France.

Shaun Wane File Photo
Shaun Wane will rebuild England towards the 2025 World Cup (Martin Rickett/PA)

England Rugby League has also confirmed the appointment of Stuart Barrow as women’s head coach, replacing Craig Richards, who left his position in the wake of England’s semi-final loss to New Zealand in York, while Tom Coyd continues as coach of the victorious England wheelchair team.

The reaction of a number of key England players is understood to have played a big part in the decision to extend Wane’s contract, with Tomkins calling him the “obvious” choice, while Makinson described Wane as “a world-class coach and a world-class person”.

Wane will take charge of England against France in Warrington next month, but the short-term international future remains uncertain, with rugby league chiefs still trying to ink in an autumn international series, possibly with either Tonga or Samoa, following New Zealand’s decision to withdraw from the projected Tests.

England v Canada – Women’s Rugby League World Cup – Group A – DW Stadium
Stuart Barrow takes charge of an England women’s side featuring the likes of Fran Goldthorp (Tim Goode/PA)

Wane will also need to scout for young talent, with a number of players who were pivotal to England’s World Cup bid last year, not least the 33-year-old Tomkins, unlikely to figure in France.

Meanwhile, Barrow, the head of England Pathways, takes charge of the women’s team at an exciting stage in the sport’s development, with two Super League clubs set to pay their players for the first time when the new season kicks off next month.

Barrow, whose England side will also face France as part of a double-header, will continue to be assisted by former St Helens head coach Dec Hardman as well as current Leeds Rhinos head coach Lois Forsell.

England v Wales – Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup – Semi-Final – EIS Sheffield
Tom Coyd will take England’s wheelchair team into the 2025 World Cup as defending champions (Richard Sellers/PA)

RFL chair Simon Johnson said: “I am delighted to confirm these appointments and I wish all three coaches every success – beginning with the men’s and women’s mid-season internationals against France on April 29.

“The RFL board received and considered at length a detailed review of the performance of each of the England teams at RLWC2021. No stone was left unturned in the review, which included submissions from coaches, players and staff alike.

“The report generated a good, robust and lengthy discussion at our February board meeting. We are confident that we have the right people in place.”