Retired South Sydney winger Josh Mansour has revealed the “gladiatorial” message Hollywood owner Russell Crowe sent to Rabbitohs players before every game.
Mansour was given a lifeline by the Bunnies in 2021 after being injured by the Penrith Panthers and played 16 games for South Sydney over two years before hanging up the boots.
On Bulldogs star Josh Addo-Carr’s Let’s Trot podcast, Mansour was asked who the most famous person in his phone’s contact list was.
He revealed he still had Rusty’s number saved before revealing what the Gladiators star would text players before every game when he was at the club.
Mansour played two seasons with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, during which time he was given Russell Crowe’s number
Crowe, pictured with South Sydney club legend Mario Fenech, has always been a passionate and committed part-owner of the club
Crowe has starred in numerous Hollywood blockbusters, but is best remembered for his role in the film Gladiator (pictured).
“Do you know he always sent us a message on game day?” Mansour asked Addo-Carr.
“One-line message [saying] “What day is it?”.
“A gladiatorial line.” All we had to answer was: “Game day.”
“It would just have foam on it. At the time I thought it was a bit random, but now I can see he’s a pretty passionate guy.”
Russell Crowe has been co-owner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs since 2006, when he successfully applied for membership of the club alongside Peter Holmes à Court.
They secured a 75 percent stake for $3 million, allowing members to keep a quarter of the club.
Souths Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court are pictured in their early days as co-owners, watching an NRL game against the Brisbane Broncos in 2007
The Rabbitohs finally broke their Premier League drought in 2014 and Crowe was there to enjoy every moment of the victory
Crowe’s famous pitch included the humorous phrase, “Let’s vote yes.” Let’s go to bed together. I hope you respect me in the morning.’
Throughout his tenure, Crowe brought Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise, Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth to NRL games.
He also lent his distinctive voice to narrate Bra Boys, a documentary about a notorious Sydney surfing crew that also featured former Souths skipper John Sutton.
Crowe further cemented his connection with the Rabbitohs by hosting pre-season team bonding sessions at his farm near Coffs Harbor on the New South Wales north coast.
In a generous move in 2016, Crowe and co-owner James Packer waived a $7 million loan to the South Sydney Rabbitohs, relieving the club’s financial burden.
Crowe often brings big-name actors to the box to watch his beloved “Souths.” Here he is pictured with Avengers star Chris Hemsworth in the background
Crowe still owns 25 percent of the club, even after Holmes a Court walked away and Crowe himself faced financial challenges
Ahead of the 2022 season, the Rabbitohs brought in a new part-owner, Mike Cannon-Brookes, founder of Atlassian, who acquired a third stake in the club’s management company alongside Crowe and Packer.
Today, these three owners control 75 percent of the Rabbitohs, while the remaining 25 percent remains in the hands of the fans.
“Did I have any idea what we could achieve when I took over?” he reflected when asked by former Rabbitohs star Dean Widders on NITV.
“You know, no, man,” Crowe said.
“I only made one punt. I just felt like we had a chance to unite all the love that was out there if someone had the say, a single voice, so that people would work towards a set of ambitions.
“People wanted Souths to be successful. “We still had a very high membership despite coming bottom every year.”