The NRL’s integrity unit is set for the most significant shake up in its history with lead investigator Karyn Murphy to depart to take up the job as Gold Coast’s NRLW coach.
Murphy has informed NRL CEO Andrew Abdo of her intention to finish up in the coming months to assist with the league’s transition, after heading up the unit since 2015.
The move to the Titans will make her just the second female to be head coach of an NRL or NRLW side — after Warriors women’s coach Luisa Avaiki in the competition’s inaugural season of 2018.
But the shift has far bigger ramifications for the NRL.
Murphy is by far the longest serving head of the integrity unit, having taken on the role just two years after it was formed in 2013.
She brought to the role 25 years of experience in the Queensland Police Force, and was once named the Australian Female Police Investigator of the Year.
Murphy’s rugby league credentials are equally as impressive — including 27 Tests for Australia and 13 years as Jillaroos captain.
In her role with the NRL she has led the probes into the Mitchell Pearce Australia Day scandal of 2016 through to the determinations on the no-fault stand-down policy.
Included in that has been the NRL’s summer from hell in 2018-19, several salary cap investigations and breaches as well as claims of match fixing and illegal bets placed by players.
Such is the length of Murphy’s tenure that it has lasted across three NRL chief executives and as many chairmen.
It is no exaggeration to label her one of the most crucial figures at NRL headquarters.
AAP understands that the NRL will now search externally for a replacement, with Murphy’s exit due before the next women’s competition commences in August.
Her exit comes on good terms, with NRL bosses understanding of her desire to move into a football roll.
Murphy will succeed Jamie Feeney as Titans coach after he guided them to the NRLW semi-finals in their first season.
With Murphy at the helm and also in charge of the entire Titans’ women’s program, she will have immense recruiting power as arguably the game’s finest-ever player.
“Karyn is an icon of our game and someone who is highly respected for what she has achieved and we are thrilled that she will be joining us,” Titans CEO Steve Mitchell said.
“As the only female head coach in NRLW competition, we believe Karyn’s work in this space will provide will inspire new and developing female coaches within the game.”
Feeney’s exit follows Newcastle’s foundation coach Casey Bromilow being axed after a winless opening season.