Rabbitohs still my team ... Russell Crowe. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
SOUTH SYDNEY co-owner Russell Crowe has moved to assure the club's supporters he has no plans to sell up or alter the structure of the club's ownership - in fact, he says his job is a long way from being done. Crowe has also put a halt to the long-running story that he and co-owner Peter Holmes a Court aren't on speaking terms. There's been talk Crowe was looking to sell up - after all, he has turned the club around, and owning a football club is an expensive investment. After raising the issue of speculation about the club's ownership in this column last week, I contacted Crowe for clarification and it's great news for the Rabbits - he is still committed to the cause in a big way. As for a restructure, Crowe responded: ''News to me. Peter and I spent time together recently. We are both still focused on moving the club forward. We will hit 22,000 members this year. There are still things to do but we have a great board and sense of true purpose in the coaching department. We are getting to where we want to be.''
Gallop in hot demand
DAVID GALLOP has already being linked to a host of sports jobs, and while the former Australian Rugby League Commission boss can afford not to work thanks to his payout, he is sure to move into a job within months. Those looking for reasons for his demise continue to blame the ''dark forces'' - more often than not pointing at one of league's real powerbrokers, the Roosters chairman Nick Politis. They seem to forget that along with Ian Frykberg, Politis was the one who talked Gallop into the job. When he had a last-minute change of heart because some of Gallop's future allies at News Ltd wanted Graham Annesley, Politis had to persuade him to take on the role.
Redemption ... Todd Carney was a different player in Origin II. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Carney comes good
TODD CARNEY has revealed how badly he stuffed up his preparation for his Origin debut and how a meeting with NSW coach Ricky Stuart and trainer Ronnie Palmer helped him star in game two. Carney says talk he was a bundle of nerves was a beat-up. ''Yeah, I was nervous, but no more than any other bloke - I just played bad,'' he said. ''I got things really wrong in the way that I prepared for the whole game and that's what cost me. When I prepare and when I train I like to plan things out. I made some real rookie errors in the lead-up to the first one. I turned up without clothes to change into. I had to hang around in my suit for half an hour instead of getting in some relaxed gear and warming up with a footy in my hand. I forgot my clothes; I mean how bad is that? And that morning I got up too late. I had brekkie with my mum and sisters when I should have been with the team and just getting my head around the game and focusing on my role. I just didn't feel at ease. Before we went into camp for game two Ricky decided we needed a plan for the week - and we needed a plan for game day. He told me that we were going to sit down on game day together and chat for an hour. We sat down, along with Ronnie Palmer, and talked a lot about life and I got to ask them questions about their time in football and it was really good - I got to know Ricky and Ronnie a lot more and they asked me about my past and things I have been through, but we did not really talk about the game much.'' Carney admitted some of the criticism really got to him. ''It's tough when people are writing stories about one-hit wonders - blokes who have played one Origin game and never been sighted again,'' he said. ''Before the team was picked they were saying that was it for me and it was nice to get out there and show that I could stand up at this level.'' Carney admitted he needs to improve his kicking in Origin III. As for his no-try which many thought should have been a penalty try, he said: ''I thought Billy Slater was going to get there and clean it up - he's pretty good in that situation.''
RICKY STUART won't change his plan to fly players' wives and girlfriends to Brisbane on game day even though the series in is the balance. Stuart has worked hard on the Blues culture and is convinced that is a key reason for the team edging closer to Queensland in the past two years. ''It's not just the players, though, it's about their families, too,'' he said. ''The players are at the forefront but the partners and wives make so many sacrifices and they deserve to be part of this and part of a game that will decide the series.'' It's rare to see a team with the bond this Blues side has - the players genuinely want to play for each other and that's a credit to Stuart's preparation. Todd Carney was accompanied by Lauryn Eagle at the Blues' after-party. Also in attendance was former Blues forward Willie Mason. The function was heaving - but so was the after-party in Melbourne when the team lost. Stuart has developed a culture which is at least equal to that of Queesnland's.
RAY HADLEY'S appearance at the Blues bonding night with the 1985 winning team was interesting, to say the least. Hadley is close mates with Ricky Stuart and Blues heavyweight Bob Fulton and works on radio with Steve Roach, so he had plenty of allies. But there were some players who wondered why he was there - after all, a few of them have felt his wrath, given the number of Blues players who have been involved in off-field dramas. Hadley would have known what he was walking into. It's a credit to the players for accepting him there and Hadley for wanting to show the players some support, given he knew it could be a very uncomfortable situation for him.
Lussick's a hit
IT'S interesting that Darcy Lussick did not raise the coaching issue at Parramatta before he signed with the Eels. ''It was not an issue for him,'' said manager Wayne Beavis. He gets the chance to play at the same club as his younger brother Joey, an up and coming Eels halfback. Lussick is the kind of tough forward the Eels need. He has been doing extra work away from the field with former world kickboxing champion Adam Watt. ''We do the boxing for fitness,'' Watt said. ''But if he ever wanted to dedicate himself to the sport, he could make a mark in boxing as well.''
Blues branch out
THE Blues spent most of their build-up in Coogee but the players found a new eating spot in Randwick - Pinnochio's, frequented by Braith Anasta and Sonny Bill Williams. The team ate there a couple of times and Akuila Uate was so impressed he took his parents to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Balbi's no fan
BENJI MARSHALL'S flourishing beard could almost start its own Twitter page, such is its popularity. But there is one person not loving it - his fiancee, Zoe Balbi. Marshall is growing the beard till the Tigers lose. Balbi is loving the winning streak but does she find the beard sexy? ''Ahh, I find Benji very sexy but the beard not so much,'' she said. ''I like that he is winning and I am prepared to watch the beard grow and grow until October … and you know beards are quite the in thing at the moment so whether he knows it or not, he is being very fashionable.''
Kearney loses ground
IT MUST be hard for Stephen Kearney knowing at least part of the Eels board is lobbying against him - and he's in danger of losing more support. There are significant figures at the Eels hell-bent on him being shown the door - and, as we first told you a few weeks back, bringing in Ricky Stuart. The campaign will heat up in coming days now that Eels chairman Roy Spagnolo is in town. Kearney needs to keep winning - it's as simple as that. Any further stumbles and he will lose those who support him in the boardroom. Kearney's biggest supporter is head sponsor Glenn Duncan of Pirtek, but as we explained, there is another sponsor waiting to jump on board, which may lessen Duncan's influence.
They love Bennett
REMEMBER the attacks on Brian Smith when he tried to change the culture at Newcastle? Some of his enemies in the media told him to get out of town. Now Wayne Bennett is starting a fire sale of players and is being praised for shaking up the club. There's no doubting Bennett is a great coach - but he is given a free go at things.
Danny Weidler is a Channel Nine reporter