Rugby league legend Shaun Edwards attends Catalans Dragons training three times a week and is learning skills that have transformed the France rugby union team.
The Wigan great moved to Perpignan after securing his job with the Six Nations champions France – although his job is based 600 miles away in Paris.
He has since become neighbours with Sam Tomkins and Steve McNamara; and is a regular at the Dragons where he immerses himself in rugby.
“He comes training quite a lot, he’s a great character and a really interesting guy,” Tomkins revealed on this week’s Love Rugby League Podcast.
“It’s so funny that he’s involved in French rugby union and is a guy from Wigan with the strongest Wigan accent walking around in his vest and seen as an absolute legend over here.
“He’s transformed the defensive systems of the French side. He is highly regarded but is just this normal bloke from Wigan. It’s amazing and I love his company.”
Shaun Edwards linking up with his fellow Wiganers
Edwards was living in London before landing his job in Paris. Yet he decided to move to Perpignan – even further away.
“Wigan is closer to Paris than where we are!” Tomkins laughed.
“Shaun couldn’t have got any further away. He was 200 miles away and now is 600 miles away. He was looking around France for somewhere to live, came to training and Steve invited him to a barbeque.
“Shaun brought his family and we were chatting and he said ‘I didn’t know there were so many Wiganers around here? I’ll just live here!’ I thought he was joking and then he got in touch a few months later asking for my builders’ details because he’d bought a house down the road. He’s here and he’s loving it.
“I never thought I’d be living in the south of France knocking around with Shaun Edwards.”
“He is obsessed and an absolute rugby nerd”
Tomkins says Edwards is at Dragons training almost as often as he is himself, such is his desire to learn and keep learning.
“He’s probably at training two or three times a week,” Tomkins said. “He doesn’t speak to anyone, he just sits at the top of the stands, takes notes, observes other coaches, then leaves.
“Shaun wants to be the best coach so wants to see what every other coach does. He is obsessed and an absolute rugby nerd. He’ll watch an amateur coach coaching open age and that is why he has been as successful as he had.”