South Sydney Rabbitohs football manager Shane Richardson has resigned to help ease the financial pressure his club faces during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Richardson, one of the code's longest-serving administrators, has stepped away from his duties to help the club he loves the most during these tough times as the world continues to battle the coronavirus.
A key figure in the Rabbitohs breaking their 43-year premiership drought in 2014 had already agreed to vacate his position after the 2021 season. He had played a major role in reshaping the club into a true giant of the game when he signed in 2004 after troubling times at the turn of the century.
Souths had already been forced to sack the majority of their staff but Richardson felt that there was no point keeping him on the books during this tough and uncertain period.
"In times like these, leaders have to step forward and lead," Richardson said.
"The cost of having me remain in the football department was one of our largest costs and as a club, we need to cut the cloth to suit the suit."
He will remain involved as a consultant to help oversee Jason Demetriou transition into the head coaching role in 2022 after current boss Wayne Bennett steps away.
"I honestly believe we have a stronger team in place now than when we won the premiership in 2014 and they can lead us into the future.
"We have, in my opinion, the best coach in the game in Wayne Bennett, and he and Jason Demetriou will be able to lead the players through this time."
He had been involved in the game's top level for the past 26 years in roles. He helped steer the ship for Cronulla during the Super League wars, played his part in Penrith's 2003 premiership success, and finally brought that long-awaited title to Redfern.
Co-owner Russell Crow paid his respect to the outgoing football manager.
"Quite simply, without Shane’s focus and input during the decade leading up to the 2014 premiership win, that victory would not have happened," Crowe said.
"Such is his vital contribution.
"Shane has made an incredibly selfless gesture on behalf of South Sydney. It’s something I’ve come to expect from him, he always puts the needs of the club first in everything he does."
Richardson hopes to continue working within the sport after his planned time off away from the game.
"I'm sure that there's a feedbag for an old horse out there somewhere."