Graham Murray

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Graham Murray
Graham Murray (22 September 2008).jpg
Murray in 2008
Personal information
Full nameGraham Ernest Murray
Born(1955-01-06)6 January 1955
Peak Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Died28 July 2013(2013-07-28) (aged 58)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Playing information
Height171 cm (5 ft 7 in)
Weight75 kg (11 st 11 lb)
Position Halfback
1976–80 Parramatta Eels 4690027
1981–83 South Sydney 4370021
Coaching information
199195 Illawarra Steelers 955153954
1997 Hunter Mariners 18701139
199899 Leeds Rhinos 594311573
200001 Sydney Roosters 573112554
200208 North Qld Cowboys 1617918149
1995 Fiji 310233
200105 City NSW 530260
200607 New South Wales 620433
Source: [1] [2] [3]

Graham Ernest Murray (6 January 1955 – 28 July 2013) was an Australian professional rugby league footballer who played in the 1970s and 1980s, and coached in the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.


A New South Wales State of Origin head coach, Murray coached extensively at the highest club level: coaching the Illawarra Steelers, the Hunter Mariners, the Leeds Rhinos, the Sydney Roosters and the 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

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

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

Playing career


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. 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

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

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

Murray was made coach of the Illawarra Steelers for the 1991 Winfield Cup season. In 1992, he guided the club to its only ever trophy with a 4-2 win in a tryless final against the Brisbane Broncos in the pre-season Toohey’s Cup. He then took Illawarra to its first finals appearance in that season’s Winfield Cup competition. During his tenure, the Steelers won more games than they lost, after having been perennial cellar-dwellers for the first decade of the club’s existence. Murray was dismissed as head 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 hundreds of players, coaches and administrators involved with the Super League saga to lose his job as a direct consequence of the brewing war.

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

Hunter Mariners

Installed as coach of Super League's Newcastle-based Hunter Mariners club for its one and only season in 1997, Murray was able to construct a competitive team despite the apathy of the local rugby league community who were mostly supportive of the Newcastle Knights, who would popularly go on to win that year’s Australian Rugby League premiership with a last-minute try in the 1997 ARL Grand Final. 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 in 1998.

Leeds Rhinos

Left without a team to coach in Australia, Murray joined the Leeds Rhinos in the Super League, directing the team to their 1998 Super League Grand Final loss to the Wigan Warriors and 1999 Challenge Cup victory over the 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 to become the Northern Eagles, with this new joint venture to be led by Manly’s 1999 coach Peter Sharp.

Sydney Roosters

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 1980, although they would lose this match 14–6 to minor premiers the Brisbane Broncos.

Murray was also the NSW City Origin coach from 2001 to 2005. Despite the grand final appearance in 2000 and a sixth-place finish in 2001, Murray was sacked by the Roosters two days after the end of his second season with the club.

North Queensland Cowboys

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 the club’s 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, the Blues lost the series to Queensland by two games to one. In 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, however, 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

In 2010, Murray was appointed as the head coach of the Australia women's national rugby league team, the Australian Jillaroos. [7] The Jillaroos would go on to win the World Cup against New Zealand in 2013, with the team dedicating 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] [14] [15] [16]


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  1. Ferguson, Shawn Dollin and Andrew. "Graham Ernest 'Muzza' Murray - Summary". Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 August 2012. Retrieved 2008-09-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  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 27 August 2016.
  8. "Jillaroos win Women's World Cup". Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 2011-11-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 November 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. "Former NSW State of Origin Coach Graham Murray to Coach the Seagulls in 2013". Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  12. "Former State of Origin, NRL coach Graham Murray in serious condition in hospital - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  13. Walter, Brad (28 July 2013). "Murray's life support switched off". Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  14. Hadfield, Dave (7 August 2013). "Graham Murray: Rubgy coach who took Leeds Rhinos to Super League success". The Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  15. Walter, Brad (29 July 2013). "Graham Murray was a mate to everyone". The Sydney Morning Herald. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  16. "Former State of Origin, NRL coach Graham Murray dies aged 58 after life support switched off". ABC News. ABC. 28 July 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Ron Hilditch
Illawarra colours.svg
Illawarra Steelers

Succeeded by
Allan Fitzgibbon
Preceded by
Pauliasi Tabulutu
Flag of Fiji.svg

Succeeded by
Noel Cleal
Preceded by
team created
Hunter colours.svg
Hunter Mariners

Succeeded by
team demised
Preceded by
Dean Bell
Leeds Rhinos

Succeeded by
Dean Lance
Preceded by
Phil Gould
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg
Sydney Roosters

Succeeded by
Ricky Stuart
Preceded by
team recreated
City Origin

Succeeded by
Tim Sheens
Preceded by
Murray Hurst
North Queensland colours.svg
North Queensland Cowboys

Succeeded by
Ian Millward
Preceded by
Ricky Stuart
New South Wales colours.svg
New South Wales Origin

Succeeded by
Craig Bellamy