Long-time South Sydney patriarch George Piggins will attend Sunday’s NRL grand final against Canterbury and intends to finally bury the hatchet with owner Russell Crowe if the pair cross paths at ANZ Stadium, after years of acrimony.
Piggins walked away from his 42-year association with the Rabbitohs after Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court won an ownership vote for the club in 2006.
The 69-year-old vowed never to again attend an NRL fixture, such was the depth of the feud, amid claims the Hollywood star and his co-owner hired a private investigator to dig up dirt on Piggins and his family.
But the former Australian representative’s stance has softened since then.
Piggins, who played hooker in Souths’ last premiership triumph in 1971, is a former Rabbitohs chairman and coach and was at the head of the march that led to the club’s reinstatement to the NRL, confirmed on 2KY’s Big Sports Breakfast on Wednesday he will be at the game after $120,000 was raised for charity.
He said at the weekend that the would attend the decideronly if someone paid $100,000 to a charity of his choice. After Tab Corp, News Corp and 2GB owner John Singleton stumped up the money, Piggins is now likely to come face to face with Crowe.
“I’m off to the game. It is for a good cause. I probably wished I had kept my mouth shut,” Piggins said.
“I will stay to the end, I will put it that way.
“To say that I haven’t missed football (isn’t true), I definitely have. It was a matter of principle I have stayed away so long.
“I guess I am just stubborn.
“It was pretty personal the fight with Russell and Holmes a Court … at some point it went too far.
“I would shake hands (with Crowe), you grow up, I’m 70 you have to realise it is a game.
“I would shake hands, I wouldn’t try to embarrass the man.
“I am looking forward to it.
“I started in 1964 and I left the club in 2006, so I had a lot of years there, it will be good, especially if they can win it.”
Crowe has repeatedly attempted to broker peace with Piggins and involve him with the club since he took ownership only to be rebuffed each time.
Piggins says he is confident he won’t be a member of the last Souths side to win a premiership come Sunday night.
“They played really well against the Roosters, that is the best I have seen them play,” he said.
“I watch them every time they are on TV.
“It will be a tough game, losing the hooker is a big blow, but the Burgess brothers, (Ben) Te’o, I think they will perform.”
Piggins said he felt for hooker Issac Luke who will miss the decider due to suspension.
“It is a shocking day but what do you do?” he said.
“You have rules you play by.
“I think that is where it gets to, especially when that young bloke from Newcastle gets injured so badly, I guess they have their hands tied.”
With Souths no longer possessing a leagues club, Piggins was unsure where the celebrations would take place if Souths win.
“They have nowhere to celebrate which is sad, maybe they will go to the Juniors (club), (but) I’ll be going to the game and going home.”