Raiders coach David Furner has been sacked. Photo: Colleen Petch
David Furner claims he was ''shocked'', but an emotional chairman John McIntyre described it as ''inevitable'' as Furner became the first head coach to be sacked in 32 seasons of Canberra Raiders history.
Raiders chief executive Don Furner drove to Mossy Point, on the NSW south coast, on Tuesday afternoon to deliver the news to his little brother after player power and poor results determined his axing.
The Raiders held an extraordinary board meeting on Tuesday afternoon and voted unanimously to sack Furner immediately.
Andrew Dunemann will stand in as interim coach after Furner's sacking. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
The board meeting was the second in four days, the first held before Saturday's 28-16 loss to the Bulldogs.
It followed secret meetings among players, where it was determined, as a group, they could no longer play under the 42-year-old.
In a final effort to reunite his team, Furner had taken his squad to the south coast on Tuesday morning to try to escape the pressure and bond the team for a late finals charge.
David Furner through the years
David Furner lines up a kick for goal during a NSWRL match in 1994. Photo: Archive
But while the squad remained on the coast on Tuesday night, under the leadership of interim coach Andrew Dunemann, Furner was left to drive home to Canberra alone.
Furner was distraught, unable to comment.
''I am on my way home,'' he texted. ''Shocked at moment, not up to chat.''
As reported in Fairfax Media, some senior players had become agitated about the leniency shown to misbehaving players such as Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson. It had affected club culture.
McIntyre admitted player discontent had contributed to the decision, but ultimately Furner's results over his five seasons in charge did not live up to the strength of his talented roster.
The Raiders have yo-yoed in and out of the finals every second year during his five-year tenure, unable to find consistency.
The Raiders almost sacked Furner mid last season, before a late revival spared him.
Furner finished with a 44 per cent winning ratio, having taken the Raiders to the finals in 2010 and 2012.
''It's a combination of both,'' Mcintyre said, when asked if it was player power or results that led to the termination.
McIntyre, whose father Les founded the Raiders, said it was one of the saddest days in the club's history.
Furner's father, Don snr, was the inaugural coach of the Raiders in 1982 and McIntyre had been David Furner's strongest advocate.
In the end, even he had to concede that Furner be sacked - ''regretfully'', McIntyre added.
''It's a very sad time for me personally,'' McIntyre said ''Having had that family commitment for all their lives.
''It was something that, moving forward, everyone would acknowledge was inevitable that was gong to happen given the results this year.''
McIntyre said he had excused himself from personally sacking Furner. He denied Don Furner was also under pressure to retain his job.
''In a very difficult set of circumstances, Don has put himself out there as the ultimate pro. That was something Don felt he had to do [deliver the news to David].''
''The inevitability of life is there's a first time for everything,'' McIntyre said, referring to the historical event.
Furner maintained his fans among the players, with Joel Thompson tweeting his support.
''Sad day at the Raiders. He has done a lot for me on and off the field. Wish Furnsey all the best for the future #raiderslegend''
Dunemann, who is in the final four candidates for the North Queensland Cowboys job, will take over the team.
McIntyre said the Raiders had ''some candidates in mind'', but ''we won't be rushing into this''.
Furner was a Raiders great as a player, the former Kangaroos representative winning a premiership and a Clive Churchill medal in 200 games for the club.
It remains to be seen if the Raiders will recruit from their former ranks again or start afresh. There are a plethora of coaches in the NRL with previous links to the Raiders, including Dunemann, Ricky Stuart, Laurie Daley, Mal Meninga, Tim Sheens, Neil Henry, Michael Maguire and Wayne Bennett.
Furner's sacking is likely to lead to the departure of Ferguson, too. The wayward State of Origin star had been looking towards a release, likely to the Cronulla Sharks.
Ferguson had an out clause in his contract if David Furner was no longer coach, which the Raiders board discussed before making their decision.
''That was obviously taken into account, so let's see what happens down the track,'' McIntyre said.
''He's still got a contract with us for two years, let's see what happens.''
The Raiders are ninth and may need to win their remaining three games to make the finals, but McIntyre said he had not given up hope.
''Like a wheelbarrow, we've got the job in front of us … but you don't give up the dream,'' he said.