Tributes flow for ex-Origin coach Murray

Last updated 10:44 29/07/2013

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The NRL has paid tribute to former NSW State of Origin coach and first-grade halfback Graham Murray, who died in Brisbane aged 58 after a battle with heart disease.

Murray had been in the intensive care unit of Brisbane's Princess Alexandra Hospital after suffering a suspected heart attack.

It was the second time in less than six months Murray had been in hospital after spending a week in a coma following a heart attack in March.

Murray emerged as a halfback for Parramatta in the late '70s and was quickly recognised for his ability to read play and his deft passing at the line. He went on to play 88 first-grade games at Parramatta and later South Sydney.

As a coach, 'Muzza' took the Illawarra Steelers to their only competition win - the 1992 pre-season challenge - and also steered the club to their first finals series the same year, earning him Dally M coach of the year.

After a stint with Super League team the Hunter Mariners, Murray headed to the UK, taking Leeds to an English Super League final in 1998 and then a Challenge Cup victory in 1999 before returning to Sydney.

He made an immediate impact during the 2000 season, guiding the Roosters to their first grand final in 20 years.

In 2004, Murray led North Queensland to their first final series and then the Cowboys' first grand final in 2005.

Along the way, the quietly spoken former school teacher coached the Blues in Origin in 2006 and 2007 and the City Origin team.

He began 2013 looking to coach the Jillaroos World Cup team and Wynnum Manly in Brisbane but suffered a heart attack earlier this year.

ARL Commission chairman John Grant said Murray was just a wonderful human being who was deeply respected across the game.

"His passing at such a young age is a tragedy and, on behalf of the commission and everyone in the rugby league community, I extend the game's deepest sympathies to his wife Amanda and his family." Outgoing NSW Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr said Murray was someone who held a special place in the game.

"Graham played and coached at the highest level of the most intense competition in Australian sport and, in that time, I have never heard anyone say a bad word about him.

"As well as being an outstanding coach, he was simply a great friend to many people in the game and a great family man who will be sorely missed."

Earlier on Monday, the Cowboys confirmed on Twitter that their former coach had died and that their thoughts were with him.

"We can confirm Graham Murray has had his life support turned off," the club tweeted.

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"However Graham is still with us and our thoughts and prayers are with him."

- AAP

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