NORTH Queensland Cowboys officials have reportedly asked coach Graham Murray to walk away now, to save everyone involved the uncomfortable situation of a mid-season sacking. It’s simply a case of jump or be pushed from the sinking Cowboys ship, as the club continues to dwell in the NRL cellar after years of being a consistent powerhouse.
The latest chapter in the NRL coaching merry-go-round saga comes as Graham Murray has confirmed he does not wish to coach past this year. The veteran Murray is ready to hang up the clipboard after 16 years of top level Rugby League coaching.
Regardless of whether Murray walks or is pushed, it is confirmed the Cowboys are willing to pay out his remaining contract value of $150,000.
While many have suggested that the big loss to Manly was the catalyst for the sacking, it seems the writing was on the wall long ago. Apparently told before a ball was kicked in 2008 that this would be his last year, it was always going to be difficult for Murray to have a strong relationship with both his management and playing group.
It is believed that Cowboys boss Lawrence Lancini met Graham Murray one-on-one late last week, to urge the long time coach to walk away and keep things civil. Regardless, it seems Murray really only has a week before something happens either way.
When Murray is gone, current assistant Ian Millward takes control for rest of 2008 before he, too, leaves in 2009 to be David Furner’s partner in Canberra. Current Raiders head Neil Henry will not quit mid-season to start his deal early with North Queensland. Its believe Canberra are sticking to this line of thought no matter what, they want maximum value from their coach and still remain angry that Henry used a ‘get-out’ clause in his contract to walk away mid-agreement.
Cowboys CEO Peter Parr would not comment on developments, obviously a close mate of Murrays – he is only saying: “Anyone associated with the club isn’t happy with where we’re sitting (2nd last). We will continue to review and monitor the situation.”
Graham Murray also added: “I don’t feel comfortable talking about it.” (the situation)
“I can’t say too much. We’ll see what happens.”
Murray did confirm this would be his final season of coaching.
“I won’t be coaching after this year,” he said. “I have had a real good innings – 16 years of coaching in first grade.
“It has been a great, enjoyable journey.
“I have never taken things for granted and it has always been a job I have loved. The day was always coming when it was going to end. I’ve had my time.
“Obviously we are feeling the pressure at the moment.”
Murray, who will continue to live in Townsville, has experienced a wonderful coaching career.
He took Illawarra to their first finals appearance, won a Challenge Cup with English giants Leeds, guided the Roosters to a grand final and then took North Queensland to the finals for the first time in 2004.
The following year, North Queensland reached the grand final only to be beaten by the Wests Tigers.