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Richardson rates Souths an NRL leader

Kicking plenty of goals on the field, South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson has described the Rabbitohs as market-leaders off it.
Richardson rates Souths an NRL leader
by AAP

By Adrian Warren

SYDNEY, Aug 7 AAP - Kicking plenty of goals on the field, South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson has described the Rabbitohs as market-leaders off it.

The Bunnies, enjoying their best season in more than two decades, have plenty of substance to show for the glamour that comes with having a Hollywood star as owner of the club.

While Russell Crowe's influence no doubt helped deliver some of the game's biggest names to Redfern, the Rabbitohs are clearly not satisfied with lofty ladder positions.

They want to be a dominant force in the Australian sporting landscape, Wednesday's unveiling of plans for a high performance community centre to be funded by a $16 million grant from the federal government the next piece in the puzzle.

It was the latest fillip for a club that has gone from pauper to prince in the space of a decade, and are serious challengers for their first premiership in 42 years.

"When I arrived at the club we were turning over $8 million, we are turning over $23 million now," Richardson told AAP.

"When I arrived here we were losing money and without the (Souths) Juniors, we would never even have survived those first couple of years (back in the NRL).

"Now we're making profits, I think we've become a leader in the NRL and it's a long way from when we were the 16th club to where we are now."

Richardson pointed out rugby league had lagged behind the AFL in enjoying the kind of high-performance facility it would soon enjoy.

"AFL has been getting a lot of free kicks," Richardson said.

"If you go down to Melbourne you will see Richmond, Essendon and Collingwood, a lot of money spent in those areas from this type of high performance and community program.

"This is a step forward for rugby league in Australia."

Rabbitohs superstar Greg Inglis regarded the new facility as a reward for their on-field efforts.

"If you ask for things kindly, nicely, then obviously things get put towards you," Inglis said.

Rabbitohs supporters clearly believe this could be a drought-breaking club this year given their early response to purchasing grand final tickets.

"We've bought 50 per cent of the membership tickets to all the clubs, we've just got to make it first," Richardson said.

"The bottom line is they have shown faith in buying them but we've got to repay that faith by getting there."

Richardson dismissed the suggestion the Rabbitohs might get fatigued by the amount of travelling they have done this year, playing some games in non-traditional rugby league areas.

"We've won most of those games," Richardson said.

"We had a week off on the Gold Coast last week relaxing, but it didn't help us.

"It's part of our business plan. The coach gets it.

"We've won those games away, it's just part of being a successful club."

Richardson said Souths would continue to use the facilities at their spiritual home at Redfern Oval while the new centre of excellence at Maroubra is being constructed.

The 5000-square-metre facility at Heffron Park will include a gymnasium, indoor sports arena, a high altitude chamber, rehabilitation pool and a community centre with theatrette and is expected to be complete some time in 2015.

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