Forget Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes in court – South Sydney now has an ally who outshines them both – Premier Anthony Albanese.
The man who helped lift the Bunnies from oblivion in 1999 also fought tooth and nail to help the club retain Adam Reynolds and interrupted his election campaign to ensure his NRL advice was correct, it has been revealed.
To understand the prime minister’s passion for the countries of the South, you have to go back more than 20 years.
One of the most iconic moments in modern rugby league history was the day approximately 80,000 South Sydney Rabbitohs supporters took to the streets of Sydney to protest their expulsion from the newly formed NRL competition, and Albanese was one from them.
He also came to prominence in federal parliament in 1999 and tabled a series of motions, including a call for the NRL to include South Sydney in the 2000 competition.
“Like the working class people who support them, South Sydney has always paid its way,” he said.
‘Unlike teams like Melbourne and Cronulla who would be insolvent if it weren’t for News Limited.
‘And people of this proud tradition know how to fight, in parliament, in the streets and in the courts.
History shows South Sydney won that fight. Albanese still wears his worn scarf and battered old Rabbitohs jersey on regular occasions.
It was only last year that he took it upon himself to fight for fans in his latest crisis, the shocking treatment of his star running back Adam Reynolds.
Reynolds is a Bunnies junior who helped lead Souths to their only premiership since reinstatement in a 30-4 win over Canterbury in 2014.
Reynolds wanted a three-year contract. Souths, still scarred by the recent retirements of club legends Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess midway through lucrative contracts, only offered him two, so he signed with Brisbane.
Albanese has been a lifelong supporter of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and championed their cause when they were expelled from the competition.
Reynolds was a favorite son at Redfern and rose through the Rabbitohs youth system before leading his NRL team to a decisive premiership in 2014, their first since expulsion.
Southern fans were furious. Reynolds had been one of his most loyal servants and played his youth football entirely in the South Sydney system for clubs such as St Peters JRLFC, Alexandria Rovers, La Perouse Panthers and Kensington United.
Albanese presented a plan to ARL Commission Chairman Peter V’landys that would not only have allowed the Souths to retain Reynolds, but would also have ended the days of the club’s loyal servants across the league They were forced to spend their last years on a foreign strip.
The plan involved honoring players who had played 250 games for their NRL club. Remove them from the salary cap so teams can pay them what they want and what they deserve, Albanese suggested.
The standard was not adopted, but that does not mean that it will not be adopted in the future.
Albanese finished his debate with former Prime Minister Scott Morrison and then ran to get his phone so he could change his NRL tips.
Albanese also broke away from his election campaign to get his NRL advice right, despite how close his race was with Scott Morrison.
Albanese is one of the Daily Telegraph‘s famous football tipsters and received his tips late on the night of the third pre-election debate against Scott Morrison. He presented his suggestions and quickly participated in the debate.
However, as the debate concluded, Albanese furiously sent a text message asking for his advice in the Knights-Bulldogs clash to be changed.