Nothing Russell Crowe has gone through on the set of ''Noah'' could compare with the apocalypse George Piggins predicted for South Sydney when the actor wrested control of the club six years ago.

The old Souths hooker warned members they had done a deal with the devil by giving up a 75 percent interest in the club to Crowe and business partner Peter Holmes a Court in a bloody takeover.

He walked away, vowing not to attend another game while the pair remained at the club, and remains bitter and twisted despite being offered more olive branches than you'd find in Greece.

It's bordering on heresy to suggest it, but there is no way South Sydney would be in the position they are if Piggins had got his way and blocked Russell Crowe's bid in 2006.

Piggins is the man who saved the Rabbitohs from extinction but Crowe ensured it was a life worth living.

His money, profile and connections have helped take Souths to a level where they are now the envy of most clubs in terms of facilities, sponsorship, memberships and player roster.

This year they finished third after reaching the penultimate week of the premiership for the first time since 1989.

There are 40-year-old South Sydney supporters who have never seen the world look so bright.

As CEO Shane Richardson said on Monday: "Somebody said to me today the most inane statement I've heard for a long, long while: 'Richo, you might as well finish last as third'.

"I tell you what, I've finished last and finishing third is a lot better.

"That's where we are today and that's because of a great coach, a great roster and a great management team but we wouldn't even have the chance of doing that without Russell Crowe."

Crowe's (and Holmes a Court's) money meant the Bunnies could completely revamp their dilapidated training and admin facilities at Redfern.

Where players used to clear rats out of the gym with a hose before pushing prehistoric weights, there is now a state-of-the-art set-up that is without peer in the NRL.

Crowe's clout and connections meant the Rabbitohs emblem was the hottest fashion item among the Hollywood set - and sponsors and fans back home clambered aboard for the ride, convinced they were part of something special and real.

Quality players want in and one of the game's most astute young coaches in Michael Maguire jumped at the chance to launch his NRL career at Souths when a few years ago it would have been considered the most poisonous of chalices.

Piggins, for all his passion and commitment, could not possibly have delivered what Crowe brought to Redfern.

The challenge now for the Bunnies is to ensure the actor's magic dust doesn't evaporate the moment he sells his stake in the club.

We'll then find out if the support cast can handle the lead role.


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