'He took us from the s..house to the penthouse'
SOUTH Sydney owner Russell Crowe paid tribute to Michael Maguire for bringing the Rabbitohs "out of the 43-year wilderness” just hours after he was axed as Rabbitohs head coach.
The Rabbitohs sensationally sacked head coach Maguire, just three years after he led the club to a famous grand final triumph.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Anthony Seibold, the man who helped engineer Queensland's remarkable State of Origin victory this year, has become the leading contender to coach South Sydney.
Crowe, who embraced Maguire on the ANZ Stadium turf when they ended their 43-year premiership drought in 2014, spoke glowingly of the 43-year-old.
"Michael has given South Sydney six dedicated years, he brought us a premiership, brought us out of the 43 year wilderness,” Crowe said.
"I hold him in the highest regard as a Coach and as a man. The fact that the board, the chairman, the CEO, the GM of football and Michael were able to talk frankly about future direction and come to an amicable and mutual agreement speaks to maturity of our culture which Michael has given so much effort to building.”
Less than 12 months after signing a three-year extension, Maguire fronted a Rabbitohs board meeting yesterday and was dumped, effective immediately, with two years remaining on his contract.
"He took us from the shit house to the penthouse,” Souths legend Craig Coleman said. "It's a sad day for Souths fans. He did a fantastic job.”
In a statement, Souths claimed Maguire's sacking was in the club's "best interests.”
The Daily Telegraph understands Maguire was genuinely shocked when told of his axing.
The senior playing group were also taken by surprise. They were not consulted and only found out after the decision had been made.
Rising young forward Angus Crichton could not be reached because he was undergoing surgery.
"It's time for a change here at South Sydney,” Souths general manager of football Shane Richardson said.
The Daily Telegraph understands the Gold Coast Titans and English club Warrington have expressed strong interest in Maguire, who had a successful stint with Wigan before taking the reins at Redfern.
Rookie coach Seibold, 42, is now favourite to succeed Maguire. It would be a gamble as head coach but he comes with a strong reputation.
Fellow Rabbitohs assistant and former Canberra coach David Furner is also in the frame, although the board will give some thought to casting the net beyond Redfern to find Maguire's replacement.
"Michael helped deliver the premiership title in 2014 and for this we will always be indebted to him. He led us to the premiership victory, the 2015 Auckland Nines win and the 2015 World Club Challenge,” Richardson said.