By Peter Jackson
Wayne Pivac will be given a free hand to pick his own Wales coaching team and decide whether to keep Shaun Edwards for a fourth World Cup.
The former Wigan superstar, long revered as Britain’s most successful defence coach, is scheduled to finish in 15 months’ time, unless Wales’ head coach-elect asks him to sign a new deal for four more years.
Edwards, whose international partnership with Warren Gatland began with the unexpected Grand Slam campaign in 2008, may decide to call it quits after the World Cup next year. In that event he will have no shortage of offers having recently been linked to roles with England, Harlequins and Wigan Warriors.
Equally, Pivac may opt to appoint a different defence coach with Byron Hayward a leading contender. Another Scarlets’ coach, Stephen Jones, will have a major decision to make in the coming months, whether to succeed Pivac as head coach in Llanelli or join the New Zealander as Wales attack coach in succession to Rob Howley who leaves after the World Cup.
Like Pivac, Jones, Hayward and forwards’ coach Ioan Cunningham are contracted to the Scarlets for two more seasons.
The region, who deny any approach from Wales for Jones but know one is coming, has already put contingency plans into operation to find Pivac’s successor.
“We’d rather Wayne have stayed with us but his appointment by Wales is an honour for the club,’’ Scarlets’ chairman Nigel Short said. “We are looking for the best possible person (to succeed him). It’s about chemistry and culture. To be the guardian of what we consider a special culture is a privilege.’’
Pivac will be given 12 months to pick his specialist coaches having beaten off ‘strong’ competition from other New Zealand coaches to land the job as Warren Gatland’s successor from next year.
“I am a great believer in letting the head coach decide who he wants in what position and for how long,’’ WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips said. “It’s always a case of the best man for the job regardless of nationality. It’s a bonus if they are Welsh.
“Everyone we wanted to speak to, we did which was great. Some of the best coaches in the world wanted to talk to us about the role. We did due diligence. After a long process the answer was right under our nose. Wayne has got it absolutely on merit.’’
The 55-year-old ex-policeman will be the fourth Kiwi to run Wales since 1998, after Sir Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Gatland.
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