Former Raiders coach David Furner. Photo: Rohan Thomson
''We're pretty comfortable with the fact David will be there, and he'll be there for the long haul. We've been happy [with Furner]. He's highly thought of outside of the Canberra Raiders.''
Just six weeks after Canberra chairman John McIntyre uttered these words to The Canberra Times, David Furner's Raiders tenure was over.
For years the Raiders have suffered from a ''family farm'' stigma. Fans have grumbled about a perceived ''jobs for the boys'' mentality in the front office.
Whether that's the case is up for debate, but Furner's dismissal with a year to run on his contract gives the club a golden chance to prove it isn't the case.
The Raiders' chief executive, Dave's older brother Don, and McIntyre could do worse than seek a coach with no previous ties to the club. I'm not suggesting former coaches Neil Henry, Tim Sheens and Mal Meninga, or club legends Laurie Daley and Ricky Stuart, couldn't do the job.
But an outsider with no previous Raiders allegiances or grudges could be best placed to rebuild the club with a clean slate.
And should the proverbial hit the fan, there's less potential for emotion or sentiment to cloud the decision-making process.
It's poignant skipper Terry Campese and vice-captain Brett White aired their grievances to board members instead of Don Furner, to avoid a conflict of interest.
Canberra should take note of the no-holds-barred clean-out Ivan Cleary has exercised at Penrith since he was appointed last year.
Cleary made it clear from the outset who was boss, dumping NSW Origin centre Michael Jennings to reserve grade for poor form and off-field behaviour.
The impact of that move was accentuated when Jennings was selected to play Origin for NSW, despite wallowing in the NSW Cup with Windsor. Jennings, now at the Roosters, was arguably Penrith's best player. He was certainly their highest paid, but that meant little to Cleary who made it clear reputations meant little in his quest to overhaul team culture.
He also offloaded key players Luke Lewis and Michael Gordon, who have also played for NSW.
Penrith fans were up in arms when Clearly replaced them with unheralded journeymen from other clubs. Wooden-spoon favourites at the start of this season, the Panthers are still a chance to play finals.
Does Jennings remind anyone of a certain player at the Raiders?
Parallels can be drawn between that issue and the Blake Ferguson saga at Canberra. The Raiders have dealt with it far differently.
The first two times Ferguson broke the club's alcohol policy, he missed just one game.
When Jennings fell out with Penrith boss Phil Gould and wanted to leave, they showed him the door.
Canberra doesn't necessarily need a ball-breaker as its next coach. But he'll need to show the players who's boss immediately.
He needs to make it clear it is he who rules the roost, not the marquee players.
The first thing Furner's replacement should do is get the playing group together, and ask who is fully committed to the club.
He should ask each and every player who is prepared to put their egos aside and do the team-oriented things, on and off the field.
If Ferguson, or anyone else for that matter, can't promise they'll commit 100 per cent to the team, they should be shown the door.
One source close to a Raiders player summed it up that unless the squad is finally on the same page, it will never win a premiership.
''I think some senior guys are probably seeing the sands of time disappear, and that if we want to challenge the Roosters or Souths, we need everyone pitching in,'' he said.
''The game is built on certain principles [and] from a playing perspective, you want to know everyone's buying in and there's no individual personalities that are trying to usurp the playing group collectively.
''I just wonder from the club's perspective whether they need someone who is going to be a bit sterner with the boys.''
The players maintain they don't have blood on their hands after Furner's axing. White and Campese have confirmed they approached the board to express disgruntlement with Furner, but getting the coach sacked wasn't their motive.
Either way, it's clear the players have got their way.
Now the coach is no longer around to blame, they have to put up or shut up for the last three matches of the season.