Off the Wall

The latest move by the owners of the South Sydney Rabbitohs - Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court - has caused more consternation among their fellow NRL Club officials than all their PR stunts and innovations this season combined.

Crowe and Holmes a Court want to remove poker machines permanently from the South Sydney Leagues Club when it reopens after the major renovations made possible by their acquisition of the Rabbitohs.

Since poker machines were introduced in NSW in 1956 they have met a significant share of the cost of running the football clubs. Football clubs backed by large and profitable leagues clubs - such as St George and Manly - were for years able to buy the best players in the game thanks to the profits from those clubs.

Without poker machine revenue, the game would never have become fully professional, Super League or no Super League.

Queensland did not get poker machines until the early 1990