David Furner likely new Raiders coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

David Furner likely new Raiders coach

By Steve Jancetic 31/03/2008 08:43:30 PM Comments (0)

Canberra chairman John McIntyre anointed former Test backrower David Furner as the next Raiders coach after the NRL club granted current mentor Neil Henry an early release.

The coaching jigsaw puzzle started taking shape with Henry released from the final year of his contract in 2009, a move which frees him to return to North Queensland next season.

The Cowboys denied Henry was a lock to succeed Graham Murray, but McIntyre said the Raiders job was Furner's for the taking.

"David Furner will take over, certainly at least as interim coach," McIntyre said.

"Neil's staying until the end of the year, David's his assistant coach and he's the logical choice to step up.

"I don't consider it to even be a punt.

"A couple of years ago when I got wind that David had finished his playing career with Leeds and I just said to the (Raiders) management `David's on his way home, find him a job.'

"In terms of bloodlines in coaching, his father (Don Furner) was an Australian coach so you could liken him to one of the Danehills."

McIntyre said he would expect Furner to become more hands on for the remainder of this season as Henry gradually handed over the reins.

Furner had a stellar playing career with the Raiders, playing 200 top grade games. He is still the club's leading pointscorer with 1218 points in the lime green.

After a stint in the English Super League, Furner returned to the nation's capital where he was installed as assistant coach in 2006, with McIntyre claiming Furner's ascension to the top job was only a matter of time.

"When (Matthew) Elliott went to Penrith I talked about David taking on the (Raiders head coaching) job then," McIntyre said.

"He very honestly said he wasn't ready to take the job on yet. I'm as certain as I can be that he's ready now.

"He's going to be hands on for a fair part of the season while Neil's away with State of Origin anyway."

Cowboys boss Peter Parr said while the club was interested in talking to Henry, no deal was currently in place.

"I haven't said to him that if you exit your contract with Canberra you've got the job here," Parr said.

"I've told him we'd be willing to discuss it with him."

The Raiders originally said they would not be releasing Henry from the final year of his three-year contract, but relented when they realised Henry's heart was elsewhere.

Henry had four years as an assistant at the Cowboys and is a longtime friend of Parr and North Queensland football manager Dean Lance.

"The board agreed not to stand in Neil's way and decided he would remain coach of the club until the end of the 2008 season," Raiders chief executive Don Furner said.

"Neil has agreed to see out the rest of the season and will remain head coach of the Raiders until October 31 this year."

Henry yesterday denied he would be seeking an immediate release, but the situation came to a head after a weekend news report claimed he was keen to accept a five-year deal tabled by the Cowboys.

"This has been the most difficult decision I have (had) to make," said Henry, who had been contracted through to the end of 2009.

"I am grateful for the opportunity that the club has given me, I'm relieved the decision is out of the road, and we're now focused on beating the Titans this weekend."

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