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Rabbitohs offer to work with Roosters
South Sydney executive chairman Peter Holmes a Court has offered an olive branch to end the simmering feud with NRL rivals Sydney Roosters.
Holmes a Court has been engaged in a slanging match with the Roosters ahead of their NRL season opener at ANZ Stadium on Friday night, 100 years of tension and bitter rivalry spilling across with comments from officials and players.
The Roosters accused the Rabbitohs of giving them poor seating at the ground, while Souths were incensed by a plug on the tricolours' website telling fans to watch the game at their Leagues club instead of going to the ground.
But Holmes a Court wants the war of words to end, and he's ready to break the ice by offering to help the Roosters promote the return clash at Sydney Football Stadium in round 25.
"Yeah I've had a few swings at the Roosters this week and I don't resile from that but what I'm saying to my counterpart at the Roosters is I want to work with him," Holmes a Court told AAP.
"I want the chairman of my opponents to say `come on fans, come on Roosters fans, let's go out to the game.'
"I'll do the same for him. We should be doing this as a code.
"I'll sit wherever they want me to sit and promote their home game.
"It's got to make sense. I want my players to run out and see 15,000 Souths fans in the crowd. It's good for my players.
"Roosters players don't want to turn up here and only see 5000 (of their own fans) in the stands, they want to see 15,000.
"Everywhere we go I want to see us able to bring 15,000 people and we've got to try and make that happen regardless of where we play."
The declining revenue from poker machines has forced NRL clubs to focus on increasing membership and crowd numbers to boost profits.
Souths are leading the way, with an almost 100 per cent increase in their ticketed members this year, up from 3300 last year to 6036, and general membership swelling beyond 11,000.
Those numbers put other NRL clubs to shame, some aiming to reach five figures by 2010, but they still languish behind the Sydney Swans AFL club which boasts more members than all the Sydney NRL clubs combined.
Holmes a Court said all NRL clubs need to set higher targets - including more sponsorship dollars, increasing members and larger crowds - and they have to be willing to work together in promoting the game to challenge the AFL and achieve rugby league's potential.
"While rugby league continues to work against itself rugby league will never compete (with the AFL)," he said.
"There's got to be calls for greater crowd numbers and that's got to be a united strategy.
"We're a big city and we've got a great game and I'd like us to set targets as a game much higher than the targets we've got now."
Souths have announced NAB as their home sponsor for the next three years, and are in talks with two companies for an away sponsor which should be finalised in the coming weeks.