High-profile South Sydney owner Russell Crowe took a red-eye plane from Los Angeles to Israel last night with the intention of attracting several Israeli Jews to the NRL, ThePublicApology can confirm.
Crowe’s audacious, spur-of-the-moment recruitment drive comes on the back of a well-publicised Twitter gaffe last week. During a “friendly” exchange with Inglourious Basterds actor and noted Jew, Eli Roth, the Gladiator star referred to the ancient religious ritual of circumcision as “barbaric and stupid.”
“Who are [Jewish people] to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin? Babies are perfect,” Crowe Tweeted last Thursday.
Crowe’s comments were savaged by the mainstream media, but the Hollywood actor strenuously denied his controversial views on circumcision qualified him as an anti-Semite. He pointed to South Sydney’s ongoing negotiations with several allegedly circumcised footballers based in Tel Aviv as evidence he was a “tolerant man, not a Jew hater.”
“While I don’t agree with circumcision in principle, I think those who have faced ‘the snip’ are some of the toughest people in the world – blokes I want on my team,” Crowe told ThePublicApology.
“Now it’s not a cut and dry decision – excuse the pun – but I figured the team could benefit from a player base consisting of different cultures and religions.”
Crowe didn’t rule out venturing south of Tel Aviv into the Gaza Strip in search of Palestinian Jews, adding that they were “probably more suited to Origin football than Israeli Jews, they’ve been doing it tough lately.”
“But I’m not just looking for conventional Jews. I’m after Hasidic, reform, orthodox, ‘left-arm-around-the-wicket’ Jews – basically anyone without a foreskin,” he said.
Crowe’s circumcision volte-face follows the release of an NRL-wide survey which found that 98% of NRL players are uncircumcised.
The invasive study found that 2% of circumcised players comprised an astonishing 20% of Origin-selected players from both NSW and Queensland, lending weight to Crowe’s theory that circumcised players are “Origin tough.”
GLOBAL PUSH: Meanwhile, it appears other NRL clubs are beginning to look outside the usual catchments for young talent. ThePublicApology understands that Canberra Raiders officials have been looking seriously at Libyan players – both rebel and pro-Gaddafi supporters – as an answer to the club’s halves dilemma.
Raiders CEO Don Furner would not confirm any signings, but told ThePublicApology that the club had been eyeing Colonel Gaddafi’s youngest son, Saif Al-Arab, before a NATO airstrike killed the promising halfback in late April.
“He was apparently a good kid mixed up in the wrong crowd, a bit like Todd [Carney] in many ways,” Furner said.
“We don’t mind taking a young bloke like that under own wing and setting him straight. We’ve got the infrastructure to do that here at the Raiders.”
The Newcastle Knights are also mulling the addition of several Egyptian youngsters to their roster. Knights owner Nathan Tinkler told ThePublicApology that rugby league was flourishing in a post-Mubarak environment, citing a United Nations report that found the number of rugby league goal-posts had tripled in the North African country since February 2011.
“We’re considering following Rusty’s [Crowe] lead and pilfering a few Egyptian kids at bargain basement prices – we could fit hundreds of them under the salary cap,” Tinkler said.
NRL boss David gallop backed the three clubs on their global recruitment policies and urged other clubs to consider forays into similarly troubled nation-states.
“These are the sorts of initiatives that will help [the NRL] get ahead of the AFL in terms of market share,” Gallop said.
Gallop also announced at this morning’s press conference that Round 17 will be ‘Circumcision Week’.
By Dave Edwards