Loyalty pays off for Canberra

Michael Hagan August 27, 2012, 1:32 pm


It is difficult to believe just two months ago David Furner's position as Canberra coach was under threat.

If you believe what you read, Furner's job had actually been offered to Ricky Stuart.

Stuart ended up at Parramatta, Furner stayed - and look at the Raiders now.

Canberra sit inside the top eight entering the final round and are a team others would like to avoid in the NRL playoffs.

Furner was under siege midway through the season.

Like all hardened professionals though, Furner stayed tough and positive and has emerged out the other side.

Canberra has never sacked a coach mid-season since their inception in 1982.

For that I applaud the club.

Their patience must have been tested after a few of those heavy losses mid-season but they stuck with Furner and the rewards are now there for all to see.

And let's not forget, they have done it without their chief playmaker Terry Campese.

Losing him would be like Melbourne losing Cooper Cronk or North Queensland being without Johnathan Thurston.

Last year was disappointing for Canberra, results-wise.

But the season gave Furner the chance to blood some rookies and the benefits are now showing.

Players like Josh Papalii and Sam Mataora have come of age while Sandor Earl has proven to be a great mid-season pick-up.

Halfback Sam Williams has also shown what a fine prospect he is.

Centre Jarrod Croker is the game's leading point-scorer while Blake Ferguson has been a terrific performer on the wing and at centre.

Josh Dugan has re-signed in another boost to the club's long-term plans.

I also want to wrap David Shillington.

When Furner was under fire, Shillington went public numerous times backing his coach.

It is loyalty not often seen in rugby league these days.

Canberra travel to Auckland this Sunday for a match against New Zealand they should win.

The Raiders have some X-factor about them.

I would hate to line-up against them in the finals.

They have a well-balanced side with plenty of speed and size.

And there leading the charge will be Furner.

I cannot state enough how tough times can be as a coach when you're under intense pressure.

It seems everything is coming down on top of you at once.
Only the tough survive. That is why I admire David Furner.

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