Crowe, Bennett bristle over Souths talk - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Crowe, Bennett bristle over Souths talk

By Joe Barton and Angela Habashy 28/01/2011 06:19:27 PM Comments (0)

As speculation mounts that Wayne Bennett will coach the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the 2012 NRL season, both parties attempted to distance themselves from discussions.

South Sydney owner Russell Crowe was quick to throw his support behind coach John Lang, who like Bennett will be off contract at the end of 2011.

"Currently the thing that you've got to be sensitive to and aware of is that John Lang is the coach of South Sydney," Crowe said.

"He's the only man that has the opportunity to win South Sydney their 21st premiership right now.

"And the club's energy and the players' energy is focused on putting in place for John everything he needs to help that to happen.

"What I think we need to do with this is not worry about that question. We very clearly understand who our coach is right now and that's where our energy's going.

"I don't want to talk about any of the possibilities that are out there, Mal Reilly, Brian Noble, because it's a pointless conversation.

"I just think it's disrespectful and disruptive to have these conversations when we know who our coach is and we know what we've got to do this year."

Bennett remains guarded about his future beyond this season, with the rumours linking him to South Sydney growing stronger by the day.

But the seven-time premiership winner has also garnered interest from both North Queensland, his former club Brisbane, while the possibility remains that he could stick with the Dragons beyond this year.

But the mastercoach bristled when asked on Friday whether his indecision could become a distraction for the Dragons, who are hoping to become the first team since Bennett's Broncos in 1992-93 to win back-to-back premierships.

"It's not a distraction for me, I know what I'm doing, I'm coaching St George Illawarra, I'm not distracted," he explained.

When asked directly if he had signed a contract with South Sydney, Bennett fired back: "Have you missed the point today? I told you when I've done something I'll tell you. I have no more to add to it."

It was a difficult day for Crowe, who also had to defend the club's decision to announce casino Star City as their front-of-jersey sponsor for 2011.

The multi-million dollar deal was announced as debate rages over the NRL's ever-growing association with gambling.

Souths' new commercial arrangements represent a huge backflip from Crowe and co-owner Peter Holmes a Court, who in 2007 tried to remove poker machines from Souths Leagues Club, saying that taking profit from poker machines was at odds with the club's program.

"The football club is a completely different organisation from the leagues club," Crowe said on Friday.

"We don't have any control over what the leagues club do, they run their own game."

Crowe admitted that his own personal opinions were at loggerheads with the deal and recognised that problem gamblers, who account for 40 per cent of gambling revenue, was an issue of concern.

"I don't like them (poker machines), I'm not a fan of them I've made that clear in the past.

"But in life I am a gambler. The fact that I took on South Sydney underlines that."

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