Graham Murray

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Graham Murray
Graham Murray (22 September 2008).jpg
Murray in 2008
Personal information
Full name Graham Ernest Murray
Born (1955-01-06)6 January 1955
Peak Hill, Australia
Died 28 July 2013(2013-07-28) (aged 58)
Brisbane, Australia
Playing information
Height 171 cm (5 ft 7 in)
Weight 75 kg (11 st 11 lb)
Position Halfback

Years Team Pld T G FG P
1976–80 Parramatta Eels 46 9 0 0 27
1981–83 South Sydney 43 7 0 0 21
Total 89 16 0 0 48
Coaching information

Years Team Gms W D L W%
1991–95 Illawarra Steelers 95 51 5 39 54
1997 Hunter Mariners 18 7 0 11 39
1998–99 Leeds Rhinos 59 43 1 15 73
2000–01 Sydney Roosters 57 31 1 25 54
2002–08 North Qld Cowboys 161 79 1 81 49
Total 390 211 8 171 54
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1995 Fiji 3 1 0 2 33
2001–05 City NSW 5 3 0 2 60
2006–07 New South Wales 6 2 0 4 33
Source: [1][2][3]

Graham Ernest Murray (6 January 1955 – 28 July 2013) was an Australian professional rugby league footballer, of the 1970s, and 1980s, and coach, in the 1990s, and 2000s. A New South Wales State of Origin head coach, Murray coached extensively at the highest club level: coaching the Illawarra Steelers, Hunter Mariners, Leeds Rhinos, Sydney Roosters and North Queensland Cowboys between the years 1991 and 2008. He also coached the Fiji national rugby league team, the City New South Wales rugby league team and the Australian women's team. He was named Dally M Coach of the Year in 1992.

Personal life[edit]

Murray was born in Peak Hill, New South Wales to James Murray and Shirley Gallagher. He was the youngest of five siblings.[citation needed]

He married Amanda Jurd on 15 December 1984. On their ninth wedding anniversary they had a daughter.[citation needed]

Playing career[edit]


Having starred for the Parramatta third-grade side in the middle 1970s, Murray took over as captain of the Eels' reserve grade side in 1977. He was regarded as too skilful for reserve grade rugby league, owing to his great organisational ability, which had him known as "little Artie" after Arthur Beetson.[citation needed] With international halfback John Kolc suffering ankle ligament damage, Murray spent some time in first grade during 1977, but returned to captain the reserve grade side to a premiership when Kolc was fit. 1978 saw Murray take over from Kolc as first grade halfback for most of the year, but the emergence of soon-to-be champion Peter Sterling caused him to flirt between the grades in 1979 and 1980. In 1979 he captained the reserves to their third premiership in five years.

South Sydney[edit]

Murray moved to Souths in 1981 and played fairly regularly in first grade until he left at the end of 1983 to play in the country.

Coaching career[edit]

Murray began his coaching career with appointments as reserve grade coach at Penrith, where he won a premiership in 1987 and helped develop many of the future 1991 first-grade premiership team, and Balmain.

Illawarra Steelers[edit]

Murray was made coach of the Illawarra Steelers for the 1991 Winfield Cup season. He guided the club to its first finals appearance in 1992 and during his tenure, the Steelers won more games than they lost. He was dismissed as coach in April 1995 after he facilitated negotiations between Steelers players and representatives of the rebel Super League organisation. He was the only person out of the countless players, coaches and administrators involved with the Super League saga to lose his job as a direct consequence.[citation needed]

Murray was the coach of the Fiji team in the 1995 World Cup, winning one game and losing two.

Hunter Mariners[edit]

Installed as coach of Super League's Newcastle-based Hunter Mariners team, Murray was able to construct a competitive team despite the apathy of the local community who were mostly supportive of the Newcastle Knights still playing in the Australian Rugby League's premiership. Although they made the final of the World Club Challenge in their first season, the Mariners were shut down as a condition of the establishment of the National Rugby League.

Leeds Rhinos[edit]

Left without a team to coach in Australia, Murray joined the Leeds Rhinos in the European Super League, directing the team to their 1998 Super League Grand Final loss to Wigan Warriors and 1999 Challenge Cup victory over London Broncos. Murray signed a deal to coach the North Sydney Bears for the 2000 NRL season. However, before he could take up this position, the club was excluded from the competition and forced to merge with the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.

Sydney Roosters[edit]

After the resignation of Phil Gould as coach of the Sydney Roosters, Murray was quickly named as his replacement. In 2000, Murray proceeded to guide the Roosters to their first grand final since 1975, although they would lose 14–6 to the Brisbane Broncos.

Murray was also the NSW City Origin coach from 2001 to 2005. Despite a sixth-place finish in 2001, Murray was sacked by the Roosters two days after the end of the season.

North Queensland Cowboys[edit]

After starting 2002 in his former profession as a teacher of mathematics, he was made head coach of the North Queensland Cowboys to replace the sacked Murray Hurst in April. After three seasons of steady improvement, the Cowboys made the NRL finals for the first time in 2004 and finished one game short of the grand final. They improved on their efforts in the following season, reaching the 2005 NRL Grand Final, the Cowboys' first, which they lost to the Wests Tigers by 30 to 16.

Murray coached City to victory in the annual contest against Country Origin in 2002, 2003 and 2005.

In 2006 Murray was named coach of the Illawarra Steelers "Team of Steel", celebrating their 25th Anniversary. Murray was appointed coach of the New South Wales rugby league team for the 2006 State of Origin series; despite winning the first game by just one point (17-16) they lost the series to Queensland by two games to one. In National Rugby League season 2006 the Cowboys missed the finals and finished in ninth position.

Murray was re-appointed as New South Wales coach in 2007, with the full support of the North Queensland Cowboys board. Once again New South Wales lost the series by two games to one. In August 2007, Murray announced that he would step down as coach of New South Wales.[4]

On 19 May 2008, Murray resigned as coach of the North Queensland Cowboys.[5][6]

Later career[edit]

In 2010 Murray was appointed as the head coach of the Australia women's national rugby league team, the Australian Jillaroos.[7] The team would go on to win the World Cup against New Zealand in 2013, where they dedicated their win to Murray.[8]

He was appointed the Newcastle Knights High Performance Unit Director of Coaching for the 2012 season.[9][10]

On 30 November 2012, Murray was appointed head coach of the Wynnum Manly Seagulls.[11] Murray stood down as the Seagulls coach due to ill health.[12]

Following two heart attacks, Murray was taken off life support on 28 July 2013. He died later the same day.[13]


  • Gary Lester (editor) (1983). The Sun Book of Rugby League – 1983. Sydney, New South Wales: John Fairfax Marketing. p. 78. ISBN 0-909558-83-3.


  1. ^ Ferguson, Shawn Dollin and Andrew. "Graham Ernest 'Muzza' Murray - Summary". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 2008-09-10.
  3. ^ Rugby League Project
  4. ^ "Murray quits as Blues coach". Fox Sports News. 10 August 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
  5. ^ "Murray resigns as Cowboys coach". North Queensland Cowboys. 19 May 2008. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  6. ^ Josh Massoud (19 May 2008). "Graham Murray resigns as North Queensland Cowboys' coach". News Limited. Retrieved 4 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Graham Murray to coach Jillaroos". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  8. ^ "Jillaroos win Women's World Cup". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  11. ^ "Former NSW State of Origin Coach Graham Murray to Coach the Seagulls in 2013". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  12. ^ "Former State of Origin, NRL coach Graham Murray in serious condition in hospital - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  13. ^ Walter, Brad (28 July 2013). "Murray's life support switched off". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
Preceded by
Ron Hilditch
Illawarra Steelers

Succeeded by
Allan Fitzgibbon
Preceded by
team created
Hunter Mariners

Succeeded by
team demised
Preceded by
Dean Bell
Leeds Rhinos

Succeeded by
Dean Lance
Preceded by
Phil Gould
Sydney Roosters

Succeeded by
Ricky Stuart
Preceded by
Murray Hurst
North Queensland Cowboys

Succeeded by
Ian Millward
Preceded by
team recreated
City Origin

Succeeded by
Tim Sheens
Preceded by
Ricky Stuart
New South Wales Origin

Succeeded by
Craig Bellamy