Shaun Edwards will see out the remainder of his Wales contract to next year’s World Cup, before he returns to rugby league to take charge at Wigan Warriors.
After months of speculation linking the Wales defence coach with various jobs in both codes, Wigan have confirmed he will be joining them next year.
But the former Warriors star – who has spent a decade as right-hand man to Warren Gatland – will not be released before his time is up.
Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies has confirmed that Edwards – who has undertaken to do some part-time work for both the Ospreys and the Dragons this season – will oversee Wales in Japan next year before he and Gatland both step aside.
Davies said: “We would like to congratulate Shaun on his appointment at Wigan Warriors.
“He is a rugby league legend and particularly so at Wigan and we know he will be welcomed back there with open arms.
“From a Wales perspective entering a crucial world cup year it is great that Shaun has committed to seeing out his contract with the WRU and to continue to help lead Wales into the world cup.
“Shaun has and continues to be a great servant to Welsh rugby. He has been part of a hugely successful coaching team over the past ten years and we would like to thank him for all of his efforts.
“I am sure I speak on behalf of the whole game in Wales when I say I wish him all the best for his future.”
Edwards, who played for Wigan from 1983 to 1997, will assume the head coach role at Wigan after the 2019 World Cup, with Adrian Lam set to replace the outgoing Shaun Wane on an interim basis next season.
“Shaun Edwards is a legendary figure in both codes of rugby as a supremely gifted player and as a highly successful Coach,” Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan told the club’s website.
“He is an inspirational figure, a born leader and a winner at everything he has turned his attention to. He also has Wigan Rugby League Club in his blood. We’re delighted to have been able to bring Shaun back to the Club which he represented with such distinction.
“Shaun will undoubtedly inject some fresh ideas and impetus into the game, drawing on his extensive experience in rugby union, and we’re proud to have made such a progressive appointment. We’re looking forward to how he builds on the very strong foundations that we have in place at Wigan.
“Wigan enjoys a global standing within our sport and beyond and, having Shaun at the helm is a shot in arm for the Club and also for the sport of Rugby League and the Super League competition.”
Edwards, 51, began his playing career at Wigan, and went on to make more than 400 appearances for the club over a 14-year spell.
Meanwhile, Lam appeared more than 100 times for Wigan, with the former scrum-half part of their 2002 Challenge Cup winning team.
“We’re extremely fortunate to have a man of Adrian’s calibre to come into the Head Coach role on an interim basis for the 2019 season,” Lenagan added.
Edwards joined Gatland’s team in 2008 after winning two European Cups and three Premiership titles with Wasps between 2001-2011. In his 10 years with Wales they have won three Six Nations titles – including Grand Slams in 2008 and 2012.
He also coached the British & Irish Lions defence on the South Africa tour in 2009.
He returns to Wigan a club legend. Edwards is the most decorated league player in history winning 37 medals including eight Championships, nine Challenge Cups and three World Club Championship titles between 1983 and 1997, and was voted the Man of Steel in the 1989-90 season.
Edwards’ departure means there will almost certainly be a complete overhaul of the Wales coaching team when Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac takes over from Gatland in November 2019.