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Furner joins major NRL coach overhaul

Forget the Tassie Devil, NRL coaches are fast headed to the top of Australia's endangered species list, with David Furner's sacking maintaining a dramatic overhaul of the code's coaching ranks.
Furner joins major NRL coach overhaul
by AAP

By David Barbeler and Steve Jancetic

CANBERRA, Aug 21 AAP - Forget the Tassie Devil, NRL coaches are fast headed to the top of Australia's endangered species list, with David Furner's sacking maintaining a dramatic overhaul of the code's coaching ranks.

Furner's exit from Canberra on Tuesday means just three coaches - Melbourne's Craig Bellamy, Gold Coast's John Cartwright and Cronulla's Shane Flanagan - remain in their positions of the 16 men that opened 2011 as head coaches.

Nine have been sacked, two (Wayne Bennett and Ivan Cleary) have quit to take up roles at rival NRL clubs, one (John Lang) has retired while Rick Stone was demoted to Newcastle assistant following the signing of Wayne Bennett.

There were mixed messages being delivered by the Raiders on Wednesday on the reasons for Furner's sacking amid claims of a player-led revolt.

Despite Canberra being fifth and boasting a 12-match winning streak at home just a matter of weeks ago, Raiders general manager Simon Hawkins claimed the club's board had been discussing Furner's future for some time.

"Things accumulate. Board members communicate on a fairly regular and informal basis with players anyway, so they have a fairly good feeling on how things are going," Hawkins said.

There was speculation the playing group had confronted the board over Furner's decision to stand by troubled centre Blake Ferguson.

Chairman John McIntyre told ABC Radio several factors led to Furner's downfall, including his support for Ferguson, his failure to implement vital changes recommended in a 2012 club review and his style of communication with players.

Chief executive Don Furner said he didn't foresee the sacking of his younger brother, who took over the reins in 2009.

He said it was "pretty much" led by a player revolt.

"That's the way most of the time a coach gets sacked," Don Furner told Sky Sports Radio.

He confirmed players had approached board members instead of himself due to his family connection.

Injured lock Shaun Fensom denied the players had held covert meetings aimed at removing David Furner from his job.

"There's been speculation about secret meetings and that - there's been no secret meetings," Fensom said.

"It's just one of those things that happen in football."

Hawkins said David Furner would be paid out for the entirety of his contract, which was due to finish at the end of the 2014 NRL season.

He added the board's unanimous decision to sack Furner three weeks out from the end of the regular NRL season was to ensure it was done cleanly.

Assistant coach Andrew Dunemann will finish the year as the Raiders' interim head coach, beginning on Sunday when the team faces Manly at home.

Hawkins said there were no candidates in line to replace Furner for 2014 and the board would take their time finding a replacement.

The sacking also opens the door for troubled star Ferguson to leave the club as he has a get-out clause in his contract that is triggered if Furner is no longer coach.

Hawkins said they had discussed the get-out clause at the meeting, which was initially included to get Ferguson's signature on the contract.




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