Josh Dugan and Anthony Milford. Photo: Colleen Petch
Canberra Raiders great Glenn Lazarus has described David Furner's sacking as ''absolutely disgraceful'', laying the blame for his dismissal squarely on the club's misbehaving players.
Lazarus pointed at the numerous off-field distractions featuring axed fullback Josh Dugan, wayward centre Blake Ferguson and rookie sensation Anthony Milford, who wants out from the final year of his contract, in undermining Furner's position.
Blake Ferguson. Photo: Graham Tidy
''I'm very, very annoyed that David's been sacked, it's just a cop-out,'' Lazarus said. ''His sacking is a result of the players, their attitudes and their behaviours the last two or three years.
''He's had some players at the club that haven't done the right thing by him or the club that he's had to deal with.
''It's very hard to coach in those circumstances.
''It's absolutely disgraceful.''
Lazarus made it clear it was a minority of players at the Raiders causing the trouble.
The downward spiral started when Dugan was sacked for a rooftop drinking session at the start of the season.
Ferguson was spared the same fate, only to be deregistered by the NRL for a month after being charged for the indecent assault of a female, one of several alcohol-related indiscretions during his time at the Raiders.
He has been reported as wanting a release to return to Sydney, while Milford is demanding a get-out clause relating to family illness is honoured.
''Unfortunately for Dave some of the blame has to go to him, but I guess Dave has spoken to these players until he's blue in the face about the responsibility they have as a first-grade rugby league player,'' Lazarus said.
''They want to be the superstar, they want to earn the big money, but they don't want the responsibility.
''If you want to be an elite rugby league player, that's the package you sign up for.''
Fellow Raiders legend Gary Belcher was equally stunned by Tuesday's announcement given the Raiders are still in contention for the finals.
''I was shocked and disappointed, I'm disappointed in the timing of it,'' Belcher said.
''Dave's still under contract and the finals are looming.
''I really like the guy and I think he's given a hell of a lot to the club, as a player and a coach, that's why I'm disappointed.
''I didn't see it coming at all.''
Raiders premiership-winning coach Tim Sheens, who has Furner on his coaching staff with the Australian Kangaroos, declined to comment.
Current Raiders players contacted by Fairfax Media were just as tight-lipped, but forward Joel Thompson made his feelings known on Twitter.
''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,'' Thompson tweeted.