Wigan Warriors seem certain to lose their Australian coach, Michael Maguire, to the South Sydney Rabbitohs at the end of the Super League season.
Maguire, who last season cemented his reputation as one of the brightest young coaches in the game by leading the Warriors to their first Grand Final victory since 1998, immediately after arriving from the Melbourne Storm, is understood to have told the club of his intention to take up an offer to join Souths from 2012. He joined Wigan on a three-year contract but the deal is thought to include a get-out clause.
Souths, who are owned by the actor Russell Crowe, have turned to Maguire after failing in an attempt to persuade Wayne Bennett, the guru of Australian rugby league coaches, to join them next season. Crowe made Bennett a huge offer but the coach has decided to join the Newcastle Knights when his deal with the St George Illawarra Dragons expires at the end of the 2011 season.
Maguire and Wigan’s chairman, Ian Lenagan, have refused to make any comment, with Maguire laughing off rumours that he may leave the club immediately, after a run of three games without a win. At this stage there is not thought to be any possibility of that happening, but confirmation of his move to Souths is expected this week.