Why Furner must leave the Raiders, pronto
Normally when I’m down for a bout of crippling existential depression on a Saturday night, I’ll just listen to the Gary Jules version of Mad World on loop in bed, eyes fixed upon the ceiling in a catatonic stupor.
But lately I’ve been getting the exact same sensation just by watching the Canberra Raiders fade rapidly into insignificance.
I’m not a bandwagon Raiders fan. I’ve been supporting this team for around 15 years, from the shudder-inducing 1998-2000 era – marked by Laurie Daley’s knee cartilage issues; the offloading of key veterans; transient, non-descript wingers; and a swag of unsightly post-Super League jerseys – right through to their latest extended slump.
Their 1989, ’90 and ’94 premiership victories came early in my life, which unfortunately meant I was unable to properly mark the occasion with a thousand schooners; however, those early memories were enough for me to press on.
More success, I naturally assumed, would follow. Didn’t we all?
But Raiders fans have always remained faithful throughout these form slumps – mainly due to the club’s history of attracting great coaches.
Solid men at the helm, hell-bent on meeting KPIs and propelling an underwhelming roster towards the top-eight. Leaving aside Mal Meninga for reasons that surely needn’t be outlined, the Canberra coaching alumni is an impressive one.
Wayne Bennett, Tim Sheens, Matthew Elliott, Neil Henry – these are all excellent, reputable men of good stock and character. Each has gone on from their Raiders post to achieve great success elsewhere; each I would enjoy having a beer with, if only to bask in their rugby league aura – which I can only imagine would be palpable.
David Furner, however, lacks that same presence. As such, it is time for him to swallow his pride and humbly accept a job on a construction site – like the 95% of rugby league players without a TAFE diploma who fail to land a sweet-ass media/coaching gig.
It beggars belief, really, that Furner and his brother, Don, can head up the Raiders as coach and CEO, respectively, and claim to be part of a legitimately democratic enterprise.
The key downside to nepotism is that the existing emotional ties can negatively affect decision-making abilities and professional growth within the organisation. And while I understand that Don Furner doesn’t select the coach – it’s a board decision and he has “no influence” over that – surely he can understand how this looks from an outsider’s perspective.
But I don’t care about nepotism. Who am I to question exactly how Raul Castro became Fidel’s successor, or whether Rupert Murdoch overpaid by millions for News Corp to buyout his daughter’s fledgling TV production firm?
God no – it’s Furner’s lack of anger that gets me the most.
He seems perturbed, at best, by the Raiders’ current plight. I want to see a gigantic pulsating vein on his forehead in the coaching box; hands thrown up in utter disbelief as the Raiders let another soft try in.
Rather than calmly hydrating himself during the match, I want to see him theatrically flinging Mount Franklin bottles across the coaching box; banging his hands against the window with the chest-beating fury of a rabid gorilla/Des Hasler.
And when the final whistle comes I want to see Furner loosen his tie like a man who’s just finished a punishing 80 hour week.
At this point he’ll wearily slink back into his chair, defeated, with the obvious subtext being “Christ, I’m done.”
Obvious anger means you’re passionate and that you care about results. Matthew Elliott was great at overt displays of passion. Hilariously, he’s now coaching the US rugby league team, where his ability to accurately and effectively convey his disgust will hold him in good stead.
In reality, both Furners should go. A good ol’ fashioned clearout might be what the Raiders need. I’d love to see Kevin Neil back in the CEO role; at least he kept Canberra relevant and in the papers with his at-times ludicrous quotes about which players he was interested in signing as rival chief executives kept mum.
“Sonny Bill Williams is on the market? Yeah, we’d be interested!” But I’d honestly just take anyone without the last name Furner at this point.
I just checked and Justin Morgan is the assistant coach at the Raiders. He’ll do.
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