Changing of the guard: Shaun Edwards is taking over from Tony Hanks this weekend

TONY HANKS is stepping down as London Wasps director of rugby with immediate effect.

Head coach Shaun Edwards will take charge of the squad for Saturday’s game against Leicester and Wasps are starting to recruit for a replacement to fill the director of rugby position immediately.

The decision has been made by mutual consent and Wasps chief executive Chris Thomas said: “Results have not gone as we would have liked this season and we have been disappointed with recent performances.

“Tony has been equally disappointed with how things are going on the pitch as he has always been wholeheartedly committed to the club with a strong desire to see it succeed. Both parties believe that the time is right for change to give the squad a fresh start and the club is now looking forward.”

Wasps lost 10-9 to Gloucester at the weekend

New Zealander Hanks, who took charge of Wasps at the start of the 2009-10 season, added: “I’m naturally disappointed to be leaving the club, and this has been a really tough decision to come to.

“In my time here over many years I have developed a very strong bond with the players and staff and I want to thank them for their hard work and commitment. I have huge respect for London Wasps and I wish everyone the best. I am confident there is a special group of players coming through and that the club will be successful in the future.”

As for the future, Thomas said: “Our focus now is on recruiting someone who can take the club forward and put us in the best position to challenge for honours. Tony’s successor will inherit an ambitious squad that we will strengthen in the coming months and with eight more Premiership games to go, our aim as a minimum is to secure our place in next year’s Heineken Cup and continue to fight for a place in the playoffs. This club has a proud history of success and our ambition is as strong as ever.

“On behalf of London Wasps I have thanked Tony for his work and dedication and I wish him the very best in the future.”