April 3: Raiders boss Don Furner
Don Furner at the announcement of Canberra Raiders new sponsorship deal with Huawei. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Canberra Raiders chief executive Don Furner joins Lunch Times live from noon today. This is your chance to ask Furner about his work as CEO of the rugby league club, the $1.7 million sponsorship deal with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei unveiled last week and how the Raiders are faring on the field in 2012.
1:10pm: That's where we'll leave it today. Thanks to Don Furner for his time in answering your questions - and for going sticking around to answer a few extra ones even after the time we booked in ran out. We'll be back next week with another guest for you to quiz in Lunch Times from noon on Tuesday. Thanks to everyone for sending in their questions, and sorry we weren't able to answer them all.
1:05pm: And we'll try to wrap up a lot of the other questions into one. Several people asked why the Raiders can't win two games in a row, and whether there was a conflict in having the coach and CEO as brothers.
Don: We have been very disappointed with our inconsistency. It is partly due to the closeness of the competition, in that any team can beat any other team on a given day, however, for us to be a serious grand final contender, we must string together three and four wins in a row and our fifth game might be a loss, but if it is a loss by a couple of points, we can at least be happy that we were in the contest and we have been in the contest in every game this year, except for last night.
I don't appoint the coaches, I didn't appoint the last couple of coaches, it is a board decision, and i do not appoint or control the board. likewise i do not, despite what people may think appoint myself to the position of CEO. if we aren't successful, our jobs are on the line. I can understand the topic of nepotism will always come up when we hit a tough patch. All i can continue to say is that David Furner does not get any favours because of his surname,
12:57pm Craig asks: It seems that Jake White from the Brumbies is getting his players to play more in the local competition, why is this not the case with the Raiders? Maybe last year Campo and Matt Orford could have had a few games in the local comp to get more match fitness before rushing them back and getting further injuries.. I know that the Raiders are linked to Queensland – Logan but why do we seem to be forgetting where we come from..
Don: Craig, we have our players who come back through injury or lack of form play in the NSW Cup competition and that club is Mounties. We had previously been with Souths Logan in the Queensland Cup competition and the reality is that both of those competitions are stronger than the ACT local competition and it better prepares the players for the rigours of NRL if they are coming back through those competitions as opposed to the Canberra district rugby league competition.
12:55pm: Robert asks: Is there any hope on the horizon with the upcoming TV rights deal that we will see more free to air games for the Raiders? I’m a little sick of the same 4-6 teams getting the big game slots and the league continues to bay that they are trying to promote a national game in competition with the AFL.
Don: Robin, I have commented publicly on your question before and agree with your comments. In fact, we brought up the issue with David Gallop and John Grant yesterday and we firmly believe that all NRL teams should receive a minimum number of free-to-air matches. We certainly are working towards this in our input to the new broadcasting rights negotiations.
12:52pm: Raiders member Sean Ferrari has sent in a question about junior development.
How is the Raiders arrangement with Mounties going, and asked if there are any arrangements still in place with former partners Souths Logan?
Also, where are the Raiders at with their salary cap, given that many players have re-signed contracts? Is the majority of our salary cap already committed for the next few years?
Don: Sean, Mounties are coming second in their first year in the NSW Cup and we are very happy with the relationship thus far. We still continue to have a junior development relationship with Souths Logan, and indeed brought four young players down into our program this year, who you will see playing in the Toyota Cup soon.
Yes, the majority of our salary cap is committed, however, there will be some room to recruit players for the 2013 season. The amount of money available will depend on the level of the salary cap, which we still don't know at this stage. We are in a very stable position with our roster and only probably require two or three additions to the squad anyway.
12:48pm: Graham asks: Can you explain the process the NRL has in place when establishing the draw. I’m a long time manly supporter and the mighty Sea Eagles have only landed in the ACT once in 3 or 4 years.
Don: Graham, yes, it can work out that way. This is because with 16 teams you do not play every team twice. It has happened similarly with the Eels in years gone by that we didn't get to play them at home for three or four years. It is simply where you end up on the ladder from the year before, and the luck of which pools you end up in when the draw is developed.
12:44pm: Snapperhead from Parkes has asked via the comments below: How are the Raiders progressing towards finding a first grade hooker and halfback?
Don: The Raiders are not in the market for a half back as we have both Josh McCrone and Sam Williams signed up to long term contracts. Both Travis Waddell and Glen Buttriss are sharing the first-grade hooking role at the moment.
12:42pm: Adam asks: If the Raiders were to finish outside of the top 8 again this year will the club be looking to replace David Furner as head coach?
Don: Adam, David's position is always under scrutiny and certainly the board will review his position, my position and other areas within the organisation, not just the head coach. It could be the roster if we are unsuccessful in making the top eight. We are we certainly not where we aim to be. It is a long season and I ask the fans to keep the faith and be patient.
12:38pm Canberra fan asks: In the past offseason there was a review of the Raiders operations. Why is it that thr Raiders are still suffering so many injuries, and early in the season? Are we recruiting injury prone players, or are we not preparing them properly?
Don: Matt, believe me the injuries suffered by the players have been unpreventable. An innocuous twisting of a knee that snapped an ACL, similar to what Campese did, for Brett White last night are just freak occurrences, likewise, the tearing of a bicep muscle or a popping your AC joint in your shoulder when driven into the turf by two opposing forwards. Our doctors, physios and strength and conditioning coaches always perform best practice. We invest a lot of money into this area to minimise these risks and it is as frustrating for the players and the club as it is the fans. We look forward to the return of Shillington, Dugan and Fensom in the short term.
12:33pm: Paul asks: In light of the recent issues with the GC Titans, can you provide some reassurance for the green machine faithful that we are not in similar circumstances? Do we make an annual profit? How much is the footy club subsidised by its clubs and investment property operations? Any comment on the financial outlook for the green machine?
Don: Paul, I can assure you the Raiders are in a strong financial position and are managed with good governance and financial prudence. We are well supported by our licensed clubs, ACT Government and sponsors. In fact, I had David Gallop and new NRL chairman John Grant attend our board meeting yesterday, prior to the match and they had full disclosure of our financial reports and were pleased with our financial position.
12:30pm: Rebecca asks: What answers do you, Dave and the boys have for the lackluster performance last night? The boys looked like they had just completed a full training session before running out.
Don: Rebecca, the performance was unacceptable, however, I can assure you they had not completed the full training session that day. They will be wrong hard to correct that against the Warriors at Canberra Stadium this Easter Sunday.
12:27pm: James Pennington asks: We normally see crowds of around 11-14,000 for Raiders home games - are you happy with those figures? Where do you realistically think the club can push them to (and likewise with club membership numbers)?
Don: Always happy to have more people come out to the game, and we certainly spend a lot of money promoting the match, likewise promoting club membership numbers. Monday night can be difficult, also the cowboys don't have a lot of traveling fans but certainly we would love to have more people out there to support the team. Certainly membership numbers dropped off from the record last year of 9000, and we have to work hard to win those back.
12:24pm: Steve asks Do you think the NRL would ever consider an application to 'buy' a player (of course currently uncontracted) to fill the gap of a long term injury? For example in the Raiders case, to allow them to buy a front rower as back up for Whitey's season ending injury??
Don: Steve, yes clubs are able to contract players up until June 30, which can help clubs in the case of large injury tolls and we will certainly be looking at who is available.
12:22pm: Dave Cavill asks on Facebook: Do clubs with pokie machines need fans?
Don: Dave, the last time I looked, poker machines don't sit in the grandstands or cheer on their team or buy merchandise to wear.
12:20pm: Raiders member Stephen Green emailed in a question about video ref decisions, and how he believes the Raiders have treated unfairly on 50/50 calls.
Don, do you have an in-house legal expert that can look at the laws of the game and then construct a concise argument about why the laws of the game were not applied correctly in various circumstances? We need to keep on Harrigan and the NRL about this, because it really leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
Don: Steve, Your point is well made. At times certainly when you are not winning it appears you do not get the rub of the green with the video ref calls. Please be assured that we take up these issues regularly with the NRL and the referees boss, as we did after the first home game against the Storm. Unfortunately in that instance the video referee boss did come back and say there were incorrect decisions made that went against us. Unfortunately, it did not give us the two points. But at least we are making them aware of our dissatisfaction with the calls.
12.15pm: Neil sent in a question after going to last night’s match and waiting in line for 40 minutes for a ticket.
I note that online tickets are $28 + $5 booking fee, yet at the ground they are $33. I missed 20 minutes of the game and felt ripped off, so probably won’t be going again. Oh, and the rugby is cheaper. Do you think you can make the experience a little better for the fans?
Don: Neil, I am sorry that you had to wait for such a long time in line to buy a ticket last night. We constantly remind people to pre-buy their tickets or buy a membership. We checked the log in times with the stadium and people that joined the queue for a 30-minute wait, joined the queue at 6.50pm or later. All I can do is keep reminding people to pre-buy their tickets or get there earlier because every ticket window was open last night, but if large crowds turn up with 10 minutes before kick off, inevitably this is what is going to happen. It is still cheaper and more convenient to pre-buy online.
And we are cheaper than the Brumbies and that is a fact.
12.10pm. Avid Raiders fan Greg Delaney asked, via Facebook, why you “lied” about the sponsorship deal when asked about it just before the announcement?
Don: Greg. When asked about whether a player has re-signed his contract or a sponsor has re-signed, unless it is agreed and signed on the dotted line. I do not say that the deal is done. So I did not lie about any sponsorship deal, it is merely fraught with danger to talk about these things until they are actually done. Plenty of clubs have made this mistake before. My job is to get the sponsorship deal done first, then get it announced second.