South Sydney director of football Shane Richardson has penned an open letter to Rabbitohs fans, imploring them not to panic amid the club's winless start to the season.
Down in confidence as well as personnel, the Rabbitohs are short odds to take the wooden spoon after losing six successive games to start the season and face a seventh defeat at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night against second-placed Brisbane.
With supporter angst growing, Richardson told members, via a letter on the club's website, he had been through the same adversity before as Penrith's boss. And while refusing to be critical of the Rabbitohs' performances publicly, he admitted he had addressed the side about its recent woes.
"It's a time for calm, not panic," Richardson wrote. "For hard work, not quick fixes.
"There is a myriad of theories as to why we are in the position we are. As a football team, I know we are exploring every avenue to get that elusive win and kick-start our season.
"I can't give guarantees about when the next win will be. Hell, I thought we would have won more by now. I have relayed my thoughts directly to the players and coaching staff and not the papers. But what I can tell you is the following: you have a team that is sticking together on and off the field to solve the problem; you have a coaching staff that is working tirelessly to get that win; you have a group of players who are as frustrated as the members about the result and are working their butts off to turn it around.
"Don't think for one minute that we haven't been looking at the tough calls behind the scenes. Don't think for one minute that we aren't exploring every avenue."
In the first full season under the new ownership of Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court last year, the Rabbitohs were one of the biggest improvers. However, they have cartwheeled backwards this season with key signing Craig Wing injured and others underperfoming.
But Richardson urged members to "keep the faith" in the Rabbitohs "family".
"As members you have already shown your loyalty to the team by buying your membership," he wrote. "It's not your ticket into the ground that you have bought but a ticket into the family that is the Rabbitohs. I know how hard it is to go into work or school on Mondays after another loss.
"Just remember you are part of the Red and Green Army. You are a major part of the solution.
"Keep the faith, as so many of you have done for so long. We are building a strong club for the future. And me, well I'm beavering away and trying to be part of the solution and making sure that JT [coach Jason Taylor] and the players get the support to solve our current situation."
Asked yesterday about his motives for the open letter, Richardson said he wanted Souths fans to know officials were "trying to find the way out" - especially after his experiences with the Panthers, who took the wooden spoon in 2001 before winning the premiership in 2003.
"We've lost six in a row and I wanted to talk to them about where our mindset was, so they knew we were still positive and trying to find the way out," Richardson said. "I've been through this before at Penrith. We stuck at it there and the team improved dramatically, so I know from experience that things can turn around in a relatively short time. We have to keep doing our best and sticking together. I could make excuses, but that doesn't get you anywhere. We should keep supporting the coach and the players in the belief we'll come out the other side, which I'm confident we will."
Holmes a Court, the executive chairman, also reaffirmed his support for Taylor while distancing himself from the side's on-field performances.
"Any idea that I was going to lace on the boots or that I was going to impact on performance … that was never going to be the case," Holmes a Court said.
"It's in the hands of the coach and the team. We've got the right people in there to do the job.
"There's no question about our support for JT."
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