Graham Murray steps aside

Graham Murray has announced that he is quitting as head coach of the North Queensland Cowboys. Murray's departure comes less than 48 hours after the Cowboys' fourth straight defeat, a 38-6 loss to Manly.

Assistant coach Ian Millward is set to be named as caretaker coach. Millward will be heading south at season's end after signing a two-year deal with the Canberra Raiders last week.

Murray, 53, guided North Queensland to the 2005 grand final. He has reportedly told club officials he will never coach again.

Murray's position has been under the spotlight since round one of the NRL competition. Last week bookmakers suspended betting on who would be the first NRL coach to step aside in 2008 following a plunge on Murray.

In the past seasons, teams have enjoyed mid-season revivals following the departure of the head coach. But Cowboys boss Peter Parr warned the struggling Cowboys, who enjoy a bye this weekend, not to expect instant results following Murray's resignation.

"If the players think just because the coach has changed things will automatically happen for them, they're sadly mistaken," Parr said.

Murray began his first grade coaching career with Illawarra in 1991. He has coached the Hunter Mariners, UK club Leeds, the Sydney Roosters, the Cowboys and New South Wales Origin in 2006-07.

Along with the Cowboys, Murray guided the Roosters to a grand final, in 2000. He was, however, unable to win a premiership and was unable to win an Origin series as NSW Blues coach.

Its understood that Murray will remain in Townsville.