Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards will become head coach of rugby league side Wigan Warriors following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Edwards, like head coach Warren Gatland, attack coach Rob Howley and forwards coach Robin McBryde, will see his current contract expire after next year’s global showpiece in Japan.
Gatland’s successor has already been confirmed in Wayne Pivac and reports have claimed that the incoming head coach had opened talks with Edwards to keep him on beyond his current deal.
But Edwards will leave the Welsh Rugby Union following the conclusion of his contract.
The 51-year-old has been with Wales since Gatland took over in 2008, helping them achieve two Grand Slams and a further Six Nations title.
And he will now return to his hometown and the team where he made his name as a player to take up his first job as a head coach.
Edwards is a Wigan legend, having spent 14 years at the club, making over 450 appearances for the Warriors and representing Great Britain times during that time.
The Super League club have also announced that Adrian Lam will keep the seat warm for Edwards until 2020.
Confirmation of Edwards’ plans is welcome news for the WRU as there had been a significant amount of speculation over the summer suggesting he could leave before next year’s World Cup.
He was linked with the Harlequins job that eventually went to England defence coach Paul Gustard and was then put in the frame to fill the void Gustard had left on Eddie Jones’ Red Rose coaching staff.
“We would like to congratulate Shaun on his appointment at Wigan Warriors,” said WRU chairman Gareth Davies.
“He is a rugby league legend and particularly so at Wigan and we know he will be welcomed back there with open arms.
“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.
“From a Wales perspective entering a crucial Rugby 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 RWC.
“He will take up the role at Wigan post Japan 2019 and 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.”