Old ties help Cairns secure NRL match
CAIRNS may never have secured a South Sydney NRL game had Rabbitohs chief executive Shane Richardson not spent a year as coach of Brothers' A Grade team 27 years ago.It was there that Richardson and club president John Moore started the friendship that delivered Souths to Cairns for the next three years.
The friendship was tested over the years by Moore's unending willingness to call his high-profile friend any time he needed a favour.
"He calls me every week and tells me about the struggles up here," Richardson said.
"He tells me how little the NRL is doing to help and how much money AFL is spending up here."
Those calls were coming through for a long time but recently they adopted a more defined purpose.
Northern Pride, the Intrust Super Cup club of which Moore is a director, had been travelling to NRL headquarters for three years, lobbying for Cairns to receive a match.
It was an uphill battle, with Barlow Park's suspect facilities and no shortage of competition across Australia bidding for NRL matches.
The Pride, led by chief executive Chris Sheppard, just wanted a game.
Finding the club to bring it here would be Moore's job, and he only had one potential candidate.
"Richo's always been willing to help where he can," Moore said.
"But he hasn't been able to bring a game here.
"Then a couple of months ago, I was coming back from Mackay and I got a call from Richo saying 'we've got the NRL game'. I was over the moon."
When the NRL approved Cairns, Richardson knew the Rabbitohs were the only choice.
South Sydney are aggressive about promoting their brand and haveplayed games from Perth to Jacksonville in Florida.
With about 10 per cent of their membership based in Queensland and Cairns crying out for an NRL match, it made perfect sense.
"He probably would have never left me alone if someone else came up here," Richardson said.
"I would have never heard the end of it."
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Good mates: John Moore's bond with Shane Richardson (right) helped clinch a deal for Souths to play in Cairns. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS