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Adrian Lam’s next job after Leigh Leopards already lined up?

Adrian Lam

It was confirmed earlier this week that Leigh Leopards had secured head coach Adrian Lam to a new deal that would keep the Papua New Guinean at the club till the end of the 2027 season, but is there significance around that date?

There have been a host of head coach contract extensions so far this season with the biggest two prior to Adrian Lam being Matt Peet and Willie Peters.

Lam’s former club Wigan have tied Peet and his coaching staff members Tommy Leuluai and Sean O’Loughlin to seven-year deals, keeping the trio at the club until at least the end of the 2030 season. As for Willie Peters, he’s signed on at Hull KR until the end of the 2028 season.

So whilst it’s brilliant news for Leigh Leopards fans that Adrian Lam has penned a new three-year deal, there could be questions about why it’s not longer. After all, Lam has brought the club back into Super League, to the playoffs for the first ever time and to victory at Wembley.

The answer may lie back in Lam’s home country of Papua New Guinea, the only nation in the world to have rugby league as its national sport.

Could Adrian Lam become head coach of the first-ever PNG-based NRL team?

There have been strong plans for Papua New Guinea to have an NRL team and it now seems that those plans will be given the green light after a resolution between the federal government and the Australian Rugby League’s commissioner Peter V’landys.

That’s what The Daily Telegraph are reporting anyway with a PNG-based team set to become one of two new expansion clubs in the NRL, following on from The Dolphins who had their inaugural season in 2023.

The Telegraph have reported that the timescale for when the new team will enter is looking likely to be the 2028 season, the first of which Adrian Lam is not under contract at Leigh Leopards. Could it be that Lam’s NRL return will see him lead his nation?

Wayne Bennett has already looked to have turned the job down with the former England head coach stating that he can’t commit “at the moment” and that could make way for somebody like Adrian Lam.

One of the swirling rumours of late that put the 53-year-old’s future in doubt was that he would return to the NRL and take on the vacant South Sydney Rabbitohs job, something that legendary commentator Andrew Voss was a major advocate for.

The Telegraph have reported that player-wise the PNG team will “draw up a shortlist and will focus on having as many players with PNG heritage as possible”, before namechecking Lachlan Lam as a target. Perhaps a PNG-heritage coach would also be desirable?

How likely is it that Lam will leave after 2027?

It is clear that Lam has unfinished business down under having only served as an assistant so far during his NRL career before taking on the Wigan job in 2019.

Would an opportunity to lead a PNG-based side be the perfect one for him to kick off his NRL coaching career? Three more years at Leigh and then back down under, at which point he could potentially have the pick of any Papua New Guinean internationals in Super League as well.

Of course, Lam could extend at Leigh but when confirming his new deal he made it clear that he had signed for a five-year project, which would indicate that 2027 will be the end of the journey for him in leopard-print.

He said: “I promised you a five-year plan and this extension shows that I’m as committed to this club now as I was in game one in the Championship.”

What comes beyond the end of his fifth year in Leigh is now a very interesting point given the green light handed to a PNG side.

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