Hard yakka the focus for rookie Furner - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hard yakka the focus for rookie Furner

By Wayne Heming 01/03/2009 10:55:15 PM Comments (0)

One thing rookie Canberra coach David Furner knows a lot about is the value of doing the hard yards.

So stepping up as head coach of a side which last season made a mockery of wooden spoon predictions with the most expansive game in the NRL looms as quite the challenge.

Canberra were the second-phase play kings of the NRL.

They had more offloads than a beer truck on New Year's eve.

Despite suffering a number of long-term injuries and watching gifted halfback Todd Carney self destruct yet again just two months out from the finals, the green machine just kept rolling on in 2008.

A flamboyant Terry Campese and a white-hot Joel Monaghan, who both played their way into Test jumpers, took Canberra into sixth place before their dream run ended at the hands of Cronulla in the finals.

But it wasn't just the number of wins Canberra mustered, it the manner in which they were achieved, with their 116 tries the second best in the competition.

Their attack at times was mesmerising but their middle defence let them down too often when it mattered .

Furner's coaching resume may be a little bare, but he has a rugby league background which suggests the 38 year-old son of former Canberra and Australian Test coach Don Furner could make a fist of the job.

When he finished his career he was the greatest point scoring forward in Australian rugby league history, but Furner knows points won't have to be his focus with the clipboard in hand.

"There's a time for that kind of football and a time to earn the metres," the former hard-working forward said.

"We've got some genuine size up front, especially with David Shillington and we've also some extra strike power with Bronson Harrison.

"There also some very good young forwards with some size about them who are showing great promise."

Furner's comments seem to suggest he will want to be competitive up front as much as in the razzle dazzle department.

One selection puzzle will be finding a new halfback - a battle which has come down to Marc Herbert, who replaced Carney at the end of last season, and former Raider Josh McCrone, back home in the national capital with a point to prove following a few frustrating seasons at Penrith.

Herbert has the front-running because of the dangerous combination he formed with Campese late last year .

"If they're both playing well, it'll be a decision based on what's going to be best for the team," said Furner.

The Raiders will be motivated to win this year's premiership in the memory of the club's founder, Les McIntyre, who died in February aged 93.

McIntyre was the driving force behind the entry of the Raiders into the New South Wales rugby league in 1982.

He was the club's first Chairman and fondly known as the Raiders "godfather".

The name Carney may still feature for the Raiders in 2009.

Exciting youngster Justin Carney's big finish to last season in the premiership winning under 20s side caught everyone's eye.

The 90kg Nyngan junior tore his opponents apart grabbing five tries in seven games.

His pace and ability to play numerous positions seems certain to appeal to Furner, who will be hoping to give the club it's first premiership since 1994 when he wore the green jumper.

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