Working hard ... the Rabbitohs are put through their paces at training. Photo: Wolter Peeters
OUTGOING South Sydney second-rower Eddy Pettybourne has admitted it will be sad to leave the club but is adamant his pending move to the Wests Tigers next season is the best thing for his family.
As the sun begins to set on his time at the Rabbitohs, Pettybourne - who will play in his first finals series - has revealed the decision to leave the Rabbitohs for the Tigers was based on his desire to support his parents and siblings.
While keen to keep him at Redfern, South Sydney were unable to match the money on the table at the Tigers, which Pettybourne could not deny his family.
''This club's done so much for me and I'm really grateful to have been a part of Souths, but I live with my parents and my little brothers and sisters, so I wanted to make sure I look after them,'' Pettybourne said.
''I thought the change would help me and my family. I just bought a house so I wanted to make sure I was comfortable paying it off, but it was more for my family. Footy is only here for a short time, so I wanted to make the most of it for their sake. I bought a house and I've started paying it off.''
Pettybourne's decision to sign with the Tigers could have worked against him for the rest of this season.
But coach Michael Maguire, who asked Pettybourne to remain at the club beyond the end of this year, hasn't used it against him.
Despite him being set to leave the club by the end of the month, Pettybourne has cemented his place in the back row and has the full support of the man steering the ship. ''Madge and the coaching staff said they wanted to keep me, but it was my choice,'' Pettybourne said. ''But even when I told Madge I was leaving, he was really happy for me. He said if I needed anything he'll always help me out. He's always been behind me and helping me out and I could never thank him enough for that.''
Pettybourne credited Maguire for changing the culture at the club, which he believes is the best it has been since he joined the Rabbitohs six years ago. ''In the past six years, I've never had this feeling since I've been here,'' he said. ''There's a different vibe around the place which we've never experienced. We've always been close, but when you're winning, everyone is more tighter and everyone wants to work harder not to let each other down.
''It happened so quick, me leaving and all, and it's sad but that's just the way it is. It makes me more hungrier for these finals … I've played finals for North Sydney, but doing it in the NRL with the rest of the boys is unbelievable and something I'll remember for the rest of my life.''