COACHING at a professional level is all consuming. Coaches tell me that they go to bed thinking about game plans, injuries and so forth, and wake up thinking about the same thing.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that David Furner didn’t see the axe hovering.
Coaching is a tough game; you spend every waking moment thinking about the team and welfare of the players only to find that some still want more.
While trying hard not to make this a curriculum vitae, I have witnessed Furner’s passion for coaching first hand for many years.
He had the same approach when he was playing; the harder you train the better you play. In his coaching life nothing much has changed, with a work ethic second to none. He was often the first there and last to leave.
I got the impression it was hard for him to switch off; that’s coaching at this level, where you live or die by results. Social media, player managers and this current generation of player, don’t make things easier. In fact, I would suggest it’s become a lot harder.
Dave spent countless hours counseling players who went off the rails, some have been well documented, and others are less well known. Blake Ferguson and Josh Dugan, for instance, must have demanded a lot of Dave’s time.
The coach wanting to get the best out of the team, in particular, he needed the star players performing. In the end, his support of these so-called stars probably cost him his job with fellow players wanting the club to take a tougher stand.
As a coach, he was probably caught between a rock and a hard place, knowing that the board and the fans would be judging on results.
My understanding is that Dave’s support for Ferguson was just a contributing factor, not the main reason for his dismissal. There was also concern over whether the findings of a review into the club in the lead up to last season were implemented.
Anthony Milford’s manager didn’t help things either, with a request for a release for Anthony to head to Brisbane.
Dave has been akin to a father figure to these players.
Earlier in the season it was Josh Papali and his apparent exit to Parramatta that required attention. You can imagine the energy put into that scenario to keep Papali at the Raiders.
Every week it seemed as though there was a new distraction. He was coaching with one hand tied behind his back.
Then there was the external pressure; fans hounded his family when they were losing, he was lauded when they were winning but it was guarded with suggestions that he was only in the job because he was a Furner and his brother was the CEO.
It’s time for fans to take a step back and ask themselves, is this the result we wanted: the coach, a club legend, gone?
It’s now up to the players to back themselves, having had a role in his downfall by virtue of results on the field, and backroom conversations off the field.