CANBERRA chairman John McIntyre has answered growing speculation about Raiders coach David Furner's future in the job by publicly guaranteeing he won't be sacked.
Asked yesterday if Furner - who is contracted until the end of next season - would survive as coach beyond this year, McIntyre replied: ''David will definitely be the coach next year. The only way that would not be the case is if David made a decision in his own mind not to be the coach, but he is not under any pressure to do that and I've had no indication that he is planning to give the job away.''
Furner, who played 200 games in nine seasons for the Raiders, took over as first-grade coach in 2009. The Raiders made a late-season charge into the finals in 2010, and were only narrowly eliminated by Wests Tigers in the second week of the play-offs, but it was in that game that playmaker Terry Campese's horror injury run began with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Canberra began last season awfully, and it was then that calls from fans for Furner to be replaced started. Campese returned midway through the season, but tore a muscle in his groin after just eight minutes. Now, Campese has suffered a third straight season-ending injury, having torn his ACL again.
Making it even more difficult for Furner is the fact star fullback Josh Dugan has missed a lot of games through injury. He played only 13 of 24 last season, and hasn't played since round three this season. The Raiders have also lost representative prop Brett White for the rest of this season with a torn ACL. Ricky Stuart, the NSW coach, has been rumoured as a potential replacement for Furner.
Furner will really feel the pressure if Canberra go on a losing run from here, but McIntyre is adamant that, no matter what happens, the coach will remain in charge next year.
''We've got a proud history of never having sacked a coach,'' McIntyre said. ''We make our bed and we lie in it, and there have been absolutely no discussions about future coaching arrangements. I don't want to give the bloke [Furner] the kiss of death, but I refute any suggestions David is at threat of losing his job.
''The pressure he would be under is personal pressure, which you feel as a coach. We're going to support him through this, the same way we supported Mal [Meninga] after he had broken his arm a couple of times, playing in the '80s. We gave him a five-year contract as a show of solidarity, and he saw that out and more. I've obviously heard Ricky Stuart's name mentioned, but it's completely false to suggest we've had any coaching discussions with Ricky.
''I'm not denying I'm mates with Ricky - he played here and was one of our greats. David and Don [Furner, Canberra's chief executive] are mates with Ricky as well.''