NRL legend Bryan Fletcher (pictured) has spoken about a 2003 incident in a Sydney pub where he said he put Russell Crowe ‘through a wall’
A footy legend has revealed how he put Russell Crowe ‘through a wall’ during a drinking session after ending up at a pub despite thinking the actor was taking the players on a trip to the Playboy Mansion.
Former South Sydney Rabbitohs’ player Bryan Fletcher opened up about the incident in an interview for the Brett Finch Uncensored podcast earlier this month.
He was recruited to the NRL side as captain in 2003, a year after the Rabbitohs returned to the competition and team fanatic and now co-owner Crowe was believed to have promised to take players to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles if they made the finals.
Fletcher told how he received a call in the early rounds of his first season at the club and initially suspected the Russell on the end of the line was former footy player and ‘prank king’ Nathan Wood playing a practical joke by impersonating Crowe.
He had never the met the Hollywood actor at the time but responded to the suspected prank call with a question about Meg Ryan, who Crowe had a brief relationship with.
‘I said, “How’s Meg? Is she good in the cot?” I said something more crude than that,’ Fletcher told Finch.
‘Then there was awkward silence and he goes, “Fletch, it’s Russell. Russell Crowe”. And when he dropped his voice I knew straight away it was him and I’ve just gone, “F**k, how do I get out of this?”‘
Fletcher said Crowe instructed him to ring the other players and advise them to bring nice clothes to change into after training one Wednesday, because they would be heading out afterwards.
Despite the team only winning one of their first 12 matches, Fletcher’s immediate thought was around Crowe’s 2002 Playboy Mansion promise.
‘My imagination just starts going so by the time I get to Sutto (John Sutton) who’s the 17th bloke (I’ve rung), I said, ‘Sutto, you’re not going to believe this bro, we are going to the Playboy Mansion’,’ Fletcher said.
Fletcher (pictured right alongside Crowe) said the actor organised for South Sydney Rabbitohs players to go to a Sydney pub to motivate them to victory after winning just one of their first 12 matches in 2003
‘Everyone is frothing, thinking they’re going to the Playboy Mansion.
‘The Souths players are getting changed after training and some questions start to arise. Don’t have a passport? Don’t worry, no such thing as customs when you’re taking a movie star’s private jet to the US.
‘It’s Wednesday night, how will we get back in time for our game on Saturday? Time difference, boys, don’t worry about it.’
But instead of the bus from training dropping the players off at the airport, it ended up stopping at a pub in Woolloomooloo, in Sydney’s east.
Crowe, who bought into the Rabbitohs in 2006, was waiting at the pub with Australian cricket legends Shane Warne and Merv Hughes in the hope of inspiring the team to victory.
Crowe (pictured) is the co-owner of the South Sydney Rabbitohs after buying into the NRL side in 2006, four years after the team was returned to the competition
Crowe and Meg Ryan are pictured together at an event in London in 2003
Fletcher had thought the night was wrapping up about 9pm – until bottles of Absinthe were brought out.
‘We went through 10 bottles. Ten bottles later and we’re going mad. It’s on. Blokes are cheering and carrying on,’ Fletcher said.
He said about midnight Crowe had called on him to bring in the club’s best defender because he wanted a game of footy.
‘It was an odd time but I’m thinking, “You’ve got to humour Russ, he’s put this drink on for us”,’ Fletcher said.
‘So Russell comes running at me and I tackle him how I always have my whole career and I miss him. He runs behind me and dives down behind an imaginary set of posts.
‘I said, “Good on you Russ” and kept walking. I take two steps and I get pushed in the back. It’s Russ. He just stops in front of me and he goes, “You f***ing dog. You’re a f***ing cat. You’re a waste of money, you’re South Sydney’s worst ever captain”.
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is pictured here centre in 2003 at the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills in California
Russell Crowe is believed to have promised to take South Sydney Rabbitohs players to the Playboy Mansion (pictured) if they made the finals in 2002
‘He was right but he didn’t have to say it to my face. The boys have jerried to what’s going on… I got the s**ts and said, “Let’s just do this again”.
‘He basically gets up and runs at me and I get under his ribs and drive him… and put him through a wall and the boys are just going, “What the f*** are you doing? Why are you doing this?”
‘Russ pops up, just shakes his head and goes, “That’s what I want to see!” That was his motivation, so we end up having a terrific night, getting on the p***.’
The Rabbitohs then won their match against the Melbourne Storm just days later but only went on to win one other game for the season, earning the wooden spoon.