‘Souths was a bigger challenge than this’: Richo combative over Tigers task – and talks up Luai chances

Shane Richardson has made his pitch to turn around the Wests Tigers in his first presser as the new interim CEO – and vowed to continue the club’s recruitment pitch to Panthers half Jarome Luai.

Speaking at Concord Oval for the first time, the former Souths, Panthers and Sharks CEO said that the Tigers were not in as bad a state as some of his other clubs when he took over, and said he would be tireless in improving their situation.

“Souths was a bigger challenge than this is,” he said.

“At the end of the day they want to be part of a building of a club to greatness again.

“You cannot put boundaries on that. It may take two years, like with Penrith, or 10 years with Souths. But the reality is every day of our lives we’ve got to be working towards achieving that.”

He also reiterated the club’s campaign to convince Luai to join – as well as Warriors enforcer Addin Fonua-Blake – while confirming that coach Benji Marshall would retain final say over recruitment, a break from previous practice where new recruitment boss Scott Fulton also held sway.

“I will never bring a player to this club that Benji Marshall doesn’t want,” said the new man.

“I’ve never even spoken to Scott Fulton. It’s ridiculous for me to even comment on that until I get inside the tent and speak to Benji and Scott and everybody else.

“It’s unfair for me to single out Scott Fulton or anyone else in this arrangement. It’s about building a club that’s internally strong, works together, and that’s my task over the next six months.

“I’ve made my feelings on Luai well known for a long time.

“In my opinion, he was the best young half coming through. He’s proven at the highest level as the best young half coming through.

“Not only that, he’s a great team leader. That Penrith side revolves around Luai.

“He’s a great person off the field. You couldn’t meet a better person than him. You couldn’t ask for a better person in the club.

“Fonua-Blake is obviously one of the top-three front-rowers in the game.”

Richo was combative on the club’s chances of succeeding in the market, responding that he had faced these challenges before and come out on top.

“Why did a player want to come to Penrith when we had won the wooden spoon and all the senior players had wooden spoons put in their letterboxes?” he said when asked why players should join the Tigers.

“Why would they want to come to a club where we had to get changed outside of the ground because of the abuse they copped when they went into the ground?

“At Souths when we lost every weekend and the abuse … both those clubs went on to win premierships.”

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