The Canberra Raiders could be falling further into trouble with star centre Blake Ferguson now potentially having two escape clauses in his contract for the end of this season.
It follows the shock sacking of former coach David Furner yesterday, the first time this had ever happened at the club in what was one of it’s darkest days.
Canberra Raiders Group general manager Simon Hawkins today revealed that Ferguson’s contract had an escape clause that could be activated if his coach was let go by the club.
The situation is similar to that of two years ago when Ferguson left the Cronulla Sharks early as a consequence of that club’s former coach Ricky Stuart leaving.
And with speculation of Ferguson seeking a return to Sydney, this is now all the more possible.
Hawkins confirmed his situation was spoken of in the board meeting.
“The only mention of Blake in the board meeting was just the awareness that his contract was on that side of things, that he had an escape clause if Furner left the club,” he said.
Hawkins said that no word had been heard from Ferguson since Furner’s sacking.
“He hasn’t asked to exercise that clause in his contract,” he said.
When questioned as to why Ferguson was given such an escape clause in his contract, Hawkins said that it was something that helped attract him to play at the club.
“Sometimes it’s a particular issue for a player, and if that gets them over the line at that time, then it’s a good decision to go down that path.”
In light of yesterday’s events reports came out that up to nine players were planning a revolt against Furner if the club did not sack him, with the former coach reportedly having lost control of the ‘dressing room’.
Hawkins said the club’s decision was not based on player opinions, and that coaching methods was the sole reason.
“It’s to do with the coaching and its approach. It’s not to do with the players,” he said.
“Things accumulated, and a decision was made, and it was decided to do it fairly cleanly and not have a vague period of Dave not sure whether he’s coming or going.”
“They [players] have free communications to the board, and they’re allowed to exercise those.”
“It was an extremely difficult decision for the board to make, but they felt that in the interests of the club and the performance of the club that it was time to make a change.”
Channel Nine news last night reported that CEO and brother to Furner, Don Furner, was made to drive two hours to the NSW coast town of Moruya, where the Raiders were in camp, to deliver the board’s decision to Furner in person, but this was unconfirmed.
Hawkins said the Raiders have made no progress in finding a new head coach, with former assistant Andrew Dunneman to take the caretaking role for now.
The Raiders board will now form a committee to discuss how they will approach finding a permanent replacement.
“There’s no time frame around that, there’s no particular pre-conceived ideas about what style of coach that might be whether it’s experienced or not, so there’s no pipeline at this stage,” said Hawkins.
Furner will be paid in full for the one year left in his contract.