CROWE BACKS RHINOS CLASH

Hollywood star Russell Crowe is pulling out all the stops to promote the challenge match between South Sydney and Leeds Rhinos in Florida later this month.

Hollywood star Russell Crowe is pulling out all the stops to promote the challenge match between South Sydney and Leeds Rhinos in Florida later this month. Crowe, co-owner of the Rabittohs and a hands-on administrator, came up with the idea of the match against their sister club to help spread interest in rugby league across America. He is taking a break in filming to attend the game in Jacksonville on Saturday, January 26, and will appear on the Jay Leno Show two nights beforehand to publicise it. It was also announced on Thursday that stars of the hit US TV show American Chopper will feature as part of the pre-game entertainment and present a motorcycle to the Rabbitohs in return for their hospitality whilst visiting Australia last year. "We had a lot of fun with them when they came to our training sessions but, unfortunately, their schedule meant they couldn’t see us play on the weekend," said South Sydney winger Nathan Merritt. "Now they, as well as the other Americans coming to the game in Jacksonville, will get to see what rugby league is all about. "We’ll be doing our best to showcase the game in the US against one of the best teams in the world." Crowe was the mastermind behind the twinning of the Rabbitohs with the newly-crowned Super League champions and Rhinos coach Brian McClennan met the actor during a visit to the club last year. More than 3,500 tickets and all reserved seating has been sold for the game, which will be staged at the 10,000-seat Hodges Field on the grounds of North Florida University. The match is being staged on Australia Day and is part of the G’day USA week-long celebration that showcases all things Australian in the States.