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19 hours ago
A heart-to-heart chat with North Queensland boss Peter Parr on Monday steeled Graham Murray for what looms as another tough week after the NRL club's passionate fans called for the Cowboys coach's head.
Parr admitted the growing criticism of North Queensland's handling of the Cowboys coach was "draining" but claimed the club was determined not to "implode".
It is believed Cowboys officials will this week decide on Murray's 2009 replacement in a bid to help North Queensland players focus.
The new Cowboys coach is expected to be Canberra mentor Neil Henry after the Raiders announced on Monday he had been granted an early release.
But speculation has intensified that Murray might not see out the season after the Cowboys remained win-less for 2008 following their third straight loss - a 36-2 thrashing at the hands of Brisbane.
Murray said in his weekend News Limited column he had no plans to walk.
"While you don't want to bury your head in the sand and not listen to people you've got to be careful about taking the criticism too much to heart," said Parr.
"The players, coach and the club are under a lot of pressure at the moment, we've got to make sure internally we are strong and don't implode."
Parr said he had tried to maintain his strong friendship with Murray amid the speculation swirling around the club.
"It doesn't make it any easier. But Graham and I have been through some tough times together at this club and this is just another one - we have come out the other side successfully," he said.
"I had a long chat with Muz (Murray) this morning and said if there was anything the club could do to assist the team then of course we will."
Cowboys fans have turned on their club for their handling of Murray.
Murray was told his contract wouldn't be renewed next year before the 2008 NRL season started.
Fans have inundated forum websites and texted The Townsville Bulletin newspaper with their complaints.
"I'm disgusted to say that I've been a Cowboys supporter for 13 years," one Cowboys fan said in a text message to the Bulletin.
"This season is terrible I can say that we turned off our TVs (last Friday night) - get rid of Muzza (Murray) now don't wait till the end of the season."
Parr said the constant speculation and criticism had taken its toll on the club.
"I don't think anyone likes criticism whoever you are, but the best way to answer the criticism is on the paddock," he said.
Parr said he had full confidence in the Murray-led Cowboys despite their horror start.
"A month ago I thought these players were the right men to take this club forward this year and to be a real competitive team in the NRL and I still believe they have that ability," he said.
Not all text messages from fans were critical of Murray but claimed the poor results were linked to the players not wanting to play under the coach.
"I understand the link between our poor start and us deciding not to renew Graham's contract," Parr said.
"The players are saying it is not an issue and from what I have seen around the club it is not an issue ...
"But unfortunately we have a lot of players out of form and when you are going bad people are always going to look for reasons and someone or thing to blame."