Cowboys crushed as coach heads for last supper
There was speculation Graham Murray would be sacked at fulltime as the Cowboys were crushed 38-6 by the Sea Eagles.
"The only thing that's happening tonight is we get on the bus and go and have a feed," Cowboys chief executive Peter Parr said.
With that, Murray survived at the National Rugby League club. For now.
"Nothing much has changed," Murray said.
"I haven't given it too many thoughts, to be honest. Your focus is coaching the first-grade football side and that takes a lot of work.
"That took all my focus this week. There's got to be a review of that game, and that will be done on Tuesday. We have five days off, and we get ready for Penrith then."
They're still likely to be getting ready for Penrith without Murray.
Manly prop Brent Kite completed the trifecta of snubbed NSW players doing their best to smear egg all over the faces of selectors.
Whatever the Blues' reasons for omitting Kite from Origin despite him being an incumbent Australian prop, he did everything within his considerable powers to prove them wrong by joining Adam Cuthbertson in a demolition job.
Manly were not at their best. But they were more than good enough.
"Brent Kite is an Australian front-rower," Manly coach Des Hasler said.
"I don't expect him to play any other way."
Asked about Murray appearing to be a dead man walking as Cowboys coach, Hasler said: "I just think it's an unnecessary part of the game now from a coaching point of view. There's enough pressure on coaches without the mid-season speculation.
"Personally, I think it could be handled in a better way. It must be tough for him."
Cuthbertson is a gun. He came on with Kite in the 21st minute. The score was 0-0. The Sea Eagles were up 12-0 by half-time and those two were the destroyers. After Braith Anasta and Scott Prince responded to being overlooked for Origin with dynamite displays for their clubs on Friday night, Kite followed suit.
"You miss out, and you're disappointed, but I suppose the upside is that you're there for your club," Kite said.
"If we keep doing that over Origin time, it'll be good. I was pretty hurt, yeah.
"I was pretty shattered for a little while there. But I'd just been away from the wife and kids for a week, so another week and a half . . . you've got to look on the bright side. I've been with them.
"It's hard to know about the rest of the series.
"Once they decide to go one way . . ."
Despite Parr's stance, this is highly likely to have been Murray's last stand after 22 years of coaching.
He started with the Penrith reserve-grade side back in 1986 and like most things from the '80s - Billy Ocean, fluoro pants, etc - he's fallen out of favour. He's been a tremendous coach but rightly or wrongly, his time has come. The feed after the bus trip was akin to his last supper.
Anthony Watmough was a late starter after recovering from an ankle injury. He finished with a sore foot. The Cowboys side missing Johnathan Thurston, Carl Webb, Matt Bowen and Jacob Lillyman. The scoreline was flattering.
Cuthbertson crashed over in the 34th minute after a great offload from Kite to Heath L'Estrange. Then Cuthbertson burst through a yawning gap for his second try. Murray's last half-time speech came at 12-0 down. Kite had played just 19 minutes of the first half, but made the most metres with 85. Cuthbertson, all 105 kilograms of him, was throwing cut-out spiral passes like Andrew Johns in his prime.
Told Cuthbertson was becoming a cult figure, Hasler replied: "Don't tell him that."
Glenn Stewart kept making inroads. A Michael Robertson double blew the Cows away and sent Murray closer towards the dreaded tap on the shoulder from Parr.
MANLY 38 (A Cuthbertson 2 M Robertson 2 N Bradley-Qualilawa J Perry L Williamson tries M Orford 5 goals) bt NORTH QUEENSLAND 6 (B Farrar try J Williams goal) at Bluetongue Stadium. Referee: B Cummins. Crowd: 9,343.
Source: The Sun-Herald