Before his coaching career, Shaw played for a number of clubs in England and Australia. Shaw played for Brisbane Broncos, London Broncos, Sheffield Eagles, Castleford Tigers, and Salford City Reds. At the Sheffield Eagles, Shaw earned a Challenge Cup winner's medal when the Eagles beat Wigan in the 1998 final.
Darren Shaw was assistant coach to Bobbie Goulding at Rochdale Hornets prior to taking charge at Leigh in 2006. Shaw replaced Tony Benson after Benson was relieved of his duties following a shock play-off defeat to Batley Bulldogs.
Shortly after Shaw's appointment it was found that he did not have the relevant coaching qualifications to take charge of a team at National League level. To counter this, Shaw was made Football Manager, with Paul Rowley becoming First Team coach.
Darren Shaw's first full season in charge of Leigh Centurions ended with a 19–6 play off defeat away to Whitehaven. Leigh's 2007 season was one dogged by inconsistency. Convincing wins were often followed by heavy defeats as Shaw was forced to field a number of youngsters due to injury problems. The unsettled nature of the side in 2007 was reflected by the fact that Shaw gave debuts to over 20 players over the course of the season.
Despite the disappointing end to the 2007 season, Shaw was given a contract to coach Leigh for the 2008 season.
After a promising start to the 2008 season, Shaw tendered his resignation following defeats to Salford, Widnes and Featherstone Rovers.
He was appointed as Head Coach of Rochdale Hornets in May 2008.
Challenge Cup final appearances