Leading NRL reporter Danny Weidler has revealed the actual role Russell Crowe played in Sam Burgess' decision to part ways with the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Burgess left his role as assistant coach last week with immediate effect, despite the Bunnies fighting for their spot in the NRL finals.
It was reported at the time that the South Sydney board deferred a decision on Burgess' future to co-owner Crowe, after the Englishman fell out of line with coach Jason Demetriou. Crowe reportedly hung up on a call with Burgess and the board after Burgess told him he couldn't work with Demetriou any longer.
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However that doesn't appear to be the case, with Weidler revealing over the weekend that their relationship is still in tact and they haven't fallen out. Crowe and Burgess formed a strong bond as the latter led Souths to a drought-breaking premiership in 2014, and Weidler reported that Burgess, his fiancee Lucy Graham, and their newborn baby will be welcomed at Crowe's farm on the NSW north coast in the coming weeks.
"It has been reported that they have fallen out because Burgess walked out on the club and that Crowe hung up on the star after asking him to stay on until the end of the season. It appears that is way off the mark," Weidler wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald.
Burgess reportedly held concerns over the 'soft' treatment that Demetriou was affording Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker and couldn't hack the lax standards that had set in at the club he loves. According to Weidler, Burgess told Crowe that he couldn't waiver from his values and that he was leaving the club. Crowe asked Burgess what he thought was best for Souths going forward and Burgess stated it was if he left.
Weidler also claimed that Demetriou was never comfortable with Burgess working as his assistant after Crowe gave him the role. Burgess is held in such high regard at the Rabbitohs that he overshadowed Demetriou's leadership at times.
Weidler also reported that Burgess wanted Walker dropped after a run-in with Demetriou at training in which he swore at the coach. However Demetriou dealt with it privately at a later stage and allowed Walker to play on.
South Sydney players to boycott Clive Churchill medal
The situation surrounding Mitchell took an explosive twist over the weekend when Rodney Churchill - son of NRL Immortal and Souths legend Clive Churchill - labelled the fullback "lazy", "a cancer on the club" and an "embarrassment to the No.1 jersey". Souths players have reportedly responded to staging a boycott against the Clive Churchill medal if anyone wins it in the foreseeable future.
The medal is awarded to the man of the match in the NRL grand final, and was presented by Rodney Churchill last year. Although the Rabbitohs are highly unlikely to make the grand final this year, players will reportedly refuse to accept the medal in future.
On Sunday, Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly shot back at Churchill and defended Mitchell. "To say he's an embarrassment or a cancer to our club is outrageous," Solly told Sky Sports Radio's 'Big Sports Breakfast Weekend'. "In fact, more often than not, he's a person who we're extremely proud of.
"Those sorts of comments about a guy like Latrell are just completely out of order and from someone who probably doesn’t know Latrell as well as the people who work with him on a day-to-day basis. Is Latrell perfect? No, he's not.
"Is in career-best form? No, he's not. (But he's) a guy 12 months ago (who) we were marvelling at his deeds in a sudden death semi-final against the Roosters at the biggest stage of the season. He's a guy that lights up crowds everywhere he plays. The (NSW) State of Origin side was desperate to have him this year because he's a player who can win games and turn games. He's just been nominated by the NRL for a leadership award. He's a guy, with his salary, who bought his mum and dad a house in Taree."
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