Don Furner has denied the Raiders have headhunted Ricky Stuart. Photo: Anthony Johnson
CANBERRA Raiders chief executive Don Furner has denied the club has headhunted Ricky Stuart to be its next coach, but former mentor Neil Henry remains firmly in the mix.
The Raiders have received 16 applications as they search for the sacked David Furner's replacement, eight or nine of who are serious contenders.
A subcommittee of Don Furner, Raiders legend Mal Meninga and board members Allan Hawke and David Thom held its first meeting on Thursday. They will reconvene mid-next week when Meninga travels to Canberra.
Neil Henry may return to coach the Raiders. Photo: Ian Hitchcock
Asked on ABC Radio whether the club had approached Stuart, Don Furner was adamant.
''No. His name is linked to us every year and I understand that link, but no.''
With board unrest continuing at the struggling Eels, reports last week claimed the Raiders had offered Stuart a seven-year, $7 million deal.
Despite exiting the club with two years left on his contract at the end of 2008, Furner confirmed axed North Queensland Cowboys coach Henry is in the running.
''Absolutely, he's in the mix,'' Furner said. ''The mere fact he took up another option at the time would not be held against him. It's a tough gig, professional coaching, and they have to look out for themselves as well.
''It's not a barrier to him coming back, certainly not.''
Furner confirmed he hoped to speak to AWOL star centre Blake Ferguson late next week. Ferguson has been ordered to front the board to show cause why he shouldn't be sacked after failing to front for training this week, and drinking while injured.
''I've spoken to [mentor] Anthony Mundine on Thursday, I'm hoping to catch up with Blake later in the week,'' Furner said.
''I'd prefer to talk to him face to face and I haven't had that chance. I will call the boys in later that week, but I have to do that first before we talk about anything else.''