Red carpet appearances that made others green with envy
Famous links ... Snoop Dogg in his Souths jumper. Photo: Judd Hingerty
ADAM MacDOUGALL says Russell Crowe is the highest-profile recruitment manager in the game. ''He's got a fair profile for a recruitment manager,'' MacDougall said. ''I know Noel Cleal's got a profile, but I think Russell covers him there.''
As one of the players who credits Crowe for his move to Souths, MacDougall enjoyed the trappings that came with a South Sydney contract under the actor's co-ownership. MacDougall met Snoop Dogg and Tom Cruise, attended the launch of Cinderella Man with Crowe, and still has shirts signed by Ron Howard and Renee Zellweger.
''He's a major catalyst for their success,'' MacDougall said.
''He's a Hollywood superstar. He got me to Souths. He was passionate, he had vision. He sells you the vision, of what Souths is, the legend of Souths, what it means to play for South Sydney. You get caught up in the whole thing because of him. He made me aware of how great a club South Sydney is. And for someone who has achieved so much in his life . .. to see so much passion . .. the way he spoke about George Piggins, and the great Souths teams of the past. To see how much it meant to him, you couldn't help but get caught up in it as a player.''
Most of the time. MacDougall, of course, occasionally clashed with Crowe, temporarily keeping a silver bunny he had been given as one of the actor's quirks after leaving the club, and musing about tips Crowe he had given players during training.
''We all laughed when he got to training and got involved, but you could just see how much it meant to him,'' MacDougall said. ''He physically wanted to get involved. He designed jackets, clothing, and brought in catering to feed us.
''And it's a pretty cool experience to go on the red carpet. As a footballer, it was pretty unique. I'm sure a few blokes who went to South Sydney were hoping they were going to get a role in one of his movies. That was the exciting thing. He did bring that Hollywood to the NRL.
''A friend of mine who was in America saw me on E! News. I still maintain the years I had at Souths were the most fun years I've had. Souths fans are really going to miss him. It's a huge loss for the club.''
Souths officials, though, say his impact is ''exaggerated''. Agents, too, believe the Crowe factor is overstated. ''I don't think it'll change too much, if anything,'' said manager Steve Gillis. ''Their leadership's strong, and they have credibility.''
Souths also maintain that Crowe, while selling his stake, is not wiping his commitment. ''It's not the end as far as Russell Crowe is concerned, because at 5.30 on Saturday afternoon, we had a lengthy discussion about our recruitment for next year,'' Souths chief Shane Richardson said.
But even apart from the stars, what of the Star casino?
Crowe has been a significant attraction for sponsors. But a spokesperson for the Star said yesterday: ''Russell Crowe's dedication and passion for the club has helped transform South Sydney into the force it is today. The Star is proud to be a major sponsor, and we look forward to the Rabbitohs having another huge season in 2013.''
Richardson said: ''He's not going away. One thing about Russell Crowe is, he won't disappear. He'll still be there, and he'll still be coming to training, he'll still be involved with the players, he'll still be involved with what we're doing, because that's what he was doing before he became an investor … do you think he's not going to pick up the telephone to ring up a sponsor?''
And who's to say that Crowe will not deliver the premiership before selling? MacDougall, for one, believes they are as good a chance as any: ''He may get his fairytale''.
And South Sydney's players might finally get their role in the Hollywood ending.