Graham Murray, the man who led the Illawarra Steelers to their first finals appearance, is being remembered as a ‘‘great coach and a great bloke’’ after he died in Brisbane on Sunday night.
The former NSW coach was battling illness after suffering a second heart attack in the space of five months earlier in July.
Doctors switched off his life support on Sunday. He was 58.
Murray is survived by his wife Amanda and daughter Kara.
‘‘It’s a tragedy and he will be sadly missed by a lot of people and the various communities he coached in,’’ long-time Illawarra rugby league administrator Bob Millward said.
‘‘He was a great person, a good bloke who mixed with all sections of the community, but he was a very good football coach.’’
See tributes to Murray at the bottom of the page
The World Cup-winning Jillaroos paid tribute to their former coach on their return to Australia last month after Murray was forced to step down from the role.
He was also at the helm of Wynnum Manly Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup.
Wynnum Manly on Sunday night also released a statement confirming Murray's passing.
Arguably Murray’s greatest feats in the coaching caper came when he headed up the Steelers between 1991 and 1995. Included was the club’s maiden spot in the play-offs in 1992.
Murray’s tenure in Wollongong ended early in 1995 when he was sacked for pledging his allegiance to Super League.
He went on to coach the Hunter Mariners (1997), Leeds Rhinos (1998-99), Sydney Roosters and North Queensland Cowboys (2002-08).
Murray also coached the Blues in two State Of Origin series defeats (2006-07) - the start of Queensland’s unbroken eight-year dominance of the interstate rivalry.
‘‘He was a victim of the Super League war in 1995, but despite that he remained great friends with everyone at the Steelers,’’ Millward said.
‘‘Even though we took different sides in the Super League war, I was privileged to remain a friend of his and I regularly attended his place in England and Townsville.
‘‘Wherever he went he made a lot of friends ... whether it be here, in England or at the Cowboys or the Roosters. He always left a trail of friendship behind him.
‘‘Our sympathy goes out to his wife Amanda and his only daughter Cara. I’m speaking for everybody in the Illawarra who had an association with him while he was here and for many years after.’’
Murray also played 89 matches in the top grade with both South Sydney and Parramatta.
Monday's Mercury includes a story stating Murray was still fighting for life after the life support was turned off. The paper went to print before the story could be updated.