By STEVE MASCORD
MORE than 24,000 Camberrans roared the Raiders into the second week of the finals on Sunday – but it was the hatred and disdain of many of those same people which turned the green machine’s season around, according to club chief executive Don Furner.
As he prepared for more hype in the buildup to Saturday’s qualifying final against South Sydney, Furner tells Rugby League Week that being booed off by their own fans on June 2 after a 40-0 defeat at home to Wests Tigers saved the side’s season.
Not that it didn’t happen again – and after a 36-4 defeat to Cronulla when the jeers returned, Furner’s brother and Raiders coach David Furner told him the players could not cope anymore with being vilified in their own town.
“Getting booed off against Wests hurt them,” said Don Furner.
“Dave basically took them into camp before we played Newcastle to get them out of Canberra. People were ringing radio stations, texting. He said ‘mate, I’ve got to get them out of here, I’ve got to get away, we’ve got to get together and talk about what’s going wrong. We’ve got to get some intensity and change’
“Generally speaking, I’m the accountant in the family and I always say ‘no’.
“It doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re in the car and people are on the radio station and they’re bagging you, tweeting, facebooking, texting…there’s so many mediums for criticism now compared to what there was. It’s easy to do it online. “You can’t be held accountable you don’t have to physically comne up to somebody.”
“When we got him back this year, before (Brian) McClennan got the job, he was linked to it. I think his manager called us up and said ‘he’s not going to go to the Warriors, he’s looking for an assistant coach (job).
“He’s got two years … it’s an unwritten rule (that) we would never hold him back.”
The CEO confirms coach Furner will receive a small bonus for making the finals – but not as large as has been suggested. “All the coaching staff have got 10 grand, 20 grand, not huge amounts, if they make the top eight,” Furner said.
“And then the get a bonus for making the grand final. I think most coaching jobs have those bonuses – because you’ve got to work longer.”