Warren Ryan says Neil Henry should return to coach the Raiders. Photo: Glen McCurtayne
Rugby league coaching great Warren Ryan insists Neil Henry is the ''ideal'' man to lead the Canberra Raiders out of their darkest days, declaring the Green Machine needs an experienced coach.
Henry is firming as one of the favourites to replace David Furner as Raiders coach despite walking out on the club in 2008 to join the North Queensland Cowboys.
The Raiders will attempt to salvage some pride from a horror season when they play the Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium on Sunday night.
Fairfax Media understands hooker Glen Buttriss will have shoulder surgery on Friday.
His absence gives veteran Shaun Berrigan a chance to have a farewell match after 16 years at the top.
Joel Thompson is also expected to be moved from the centres as interim coach Andrew Dunemann aims to revitalise the team.
Henry was axed as Cowboys coach earlier this year, but he stayed on for the season and North Queensland is on the verge of an unlikely finals berth.
Ryan implored the Raiders to swoop on Henry to rebuild the club.
''Neil Henry would be a good option for the Raiders,'' Ryan said. ''He's going to embarrass the directors at North Queensland, the Cowboys look like they're going to make the top eight and if they make the top eight I think they'll go all right.
''They might have got twitchy at North Queensland early and didn't hold their nerve.
''He's close and has worked with Mal [Meninga] and Mal's on the [Raiders] committee to select the coach so there's already a connection there.''
The Raiders will ramp up their search for a new coach this week when the four-man sub-committee meets to discuss the candidates. As many as 16 hopefuls have applied.
Henry has already been endorsed by former Raiders captain Alan Tongue while the players are keen for Dunemann be given a chance to lead a revival.
Ricky Stuart, Andrew McFadden, Rick Stone, Tony Smith and Wayne Collins have also been linked to the Raiders while supercoach Wayne Bennett has been asked for informal advice.
After a disastrous year that has seen Josh Dugan leave the club, Blake Ferguson's drama, Sandor Earl's drug ban and Furner being sacked, Ryan said Henry should be the No.1 choice.
''I think the Raiders need an experienced head in charge,'' said Ryan, who coached the Bulldogs to two premierships in the 1980s.
''Inexperience isn't the way to go. Henry has had quite a few years as a coach, he knows the set-up and I think he'd be ideal for the club, frankly.''
Berrigan will be added to the Raiders' line-up when the team is named on Tuesday for a fitting farewell to his career.
He made his debut for the Brisbane Broncos in 1998.
The 34-year-old played in two premierships for the Broncos and won a Clive Churchill Medal for the best player in the 2006 grand final.
The Sharks will likely be without captain Paul Gallen as he faces a one-match suspension.
The NRL judiciary on Monday charged Gallen with unnecessary head/neck pressure after his crusher tackle on North Queensland's Scott Bolton.