Martin Gleeson has been tasked with turning England into entertainers and the new attack coach has revealed the role Shaun Edwards has played in his journey to this point.

The former Great Britain centre has only been in union for two years but after success with Wasps has been poached by Eddie Jones to join a coaching set-up who are attempting to win the 2023 World Cup.

If the master plan comes to fruition, Gleeson would have been a key reason behind England lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy and inadvertently so would France defence coach Edwards, another to have switched codes.

Edwards, who turned down advances from the Rugby Football Union in 2006 and has regularly been linked with a job at Twickenham, perked the interest of the ex-Wigan and St Helens ace in rugby union during regular conversations while Gleeson coached at Salford City Reds.

The new England assistant explained: “Shaun Edwards was a big influence in me coming to rugby union. When he was the Wales coach, I used to go see him throughout the year and he would ask me stuff about defence when I was still in league.

“How would you defend against this in league and just general rugby chat. He was teaching me some stuff within the game and I’d go to his house and have good conversations.

“It really perked my interest in the game and he was a good reference for me to get into the game when I first went into Wasps.

“Shaun is someone who had success with Wigan where I was from and watching him as a kid growing up was a big influence. After that on the coaching side, he is someone who had a successful playing career, then has gone into coaching so with the success he has had, he is a pretty special guy.”

Shaun Edwards spent 11 years as defence coach with Wales before he joined France's coaching staff in 2020
Shaun Edwards spent 11 years as defence coach with Wales before he joined France’s coaching staff in 2020 (Adam Davy/PA)

When Gleeson left the 13-man sport to become part of Wasps’ coaching staff, he bucked the trend and followed in the footsteps of Paul Deacon at Sale by being involved in the attacking side of the game, not in defence like had been the tradition for those ditching league for union.

Edwards did just that and has been widely credited as one of the best in the business in his field, but his protege is now going to try and unlock such drilled defences.

A long-standing debate over Jones’ England has been the entertainment value they provide with some boos coming during their Autumn Nations Cup triumph over France in December. A poor Six Nations campaign months later only further highlighted the need for the shackles to be released.

“I would like England to play with skill, with pace and with power,” Wigan-born Gleeson insisted.

“There can be room for both I think, you have got to win but you can win in a way that is entertaining at the same time.

“Certain opposition and conditions dictate parts of the way you play but people pay their money to be entertained as well don’t they? I think there is a balance and where you can you want to entertain but sometimes situations don’t let it go that way.

“I think if opportunities are there in games, you have to have the ability and knowhow to take them.”

Gleeson is part of a new-look coaching staff with Richard Cockerill brought in to assist Matt Proudfoot with the pack.

All four got to grips with each other at The Lensbury this week after England had a 45-man group gather in southwest London on Sunday for a three-day training camp.

Jones’ vision for success in France was unveiled to a squad which did not include George Ford, Jamie George as well as Billy and Mako Vunipola. The culling of four veterans perhaps signalled a change of philosophy.

Two-time Super League winner Gleeson provided subtle hints of the rugby he wants England to play with talk of “working in wider channels and creating opportunities on the edge” while he stressed the need for variation.

“We have laid out our vision leading forward for the World Cup,” the 41-year-old said.

“People attack in different ways. South Africa attack different to New Zealand, to Australia. We want to develop our game. There could be bits and different elements from those teams, but we don’t want to be a one-trick pony and play one certain way.

“We want to have strings to our bow; good set-piece, good defence and good variation in our attack. The one that stands out at the minute is New Zealand, who are playing very well but we want to make our side the number one in the world come two years time. To do that we have to be good in lots of areas, especially attack.”