Rab­bitoh boss very happy to get Ga­gai

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - CHRIS­TIAN NICOLUSSI

SOUTH Syd­ney boss Shane Richardson was re­minded why his club got it right in their big­money pur­suit of Dane Ga­gai af­ter he be­came the first winger in Ori­gin his­tory to win the Wally Lewis Medal.

Richardson was so impressed by the Queens­land flyer’s ef­forts dur­ing the rep­re­sen­ta­tive se­ries – and his gra­cious post- match speech on Wed­nes­day night – he said: “I see a lot of Johnathan Thurston in him.”

“There is a real qual­ity lead­er­ship about him,’’ Richardson told News Corp.

“We’ve seen things in Dane, not just the way he has played in a side not play­ing well ( this year), but more im­por­tantly the way he has led and how much ef­fort he has put in and his abil­ity to break the line.

“I loved his in­ter­view af­ter the game on Wed­nes­day night. He was re­ally hum­ble, he’s a strong char­ac­ter, he’s a strong indige­nous char­ac­ter. He’s a nat­u­ral leader, not just player.

“He’ll be a ma­jor part of our team over the next four years.’’

It was an­nounced be­fore the start of the Ori­gin se­ries Ga­gai would leave New­cas­tle at the end of the sea­son to take up a four- year deal at Souths.

Richardson said it was su­per­star skip­per Greg Inglis who wanted the club to make Ga­gai a sign­ing pri­or­ity.

“Greg played a ma­jor role, he had been in­volved with him be­fore, and when we worked out we wanted to go for him, Greg rang and said to me, ‘ Ri­cho, you need to go all out for this kid be­cause he’s spe­cial’. We did and it’s worked out pos­i­tive for us,’’ Richardson said.

Ga­gai is ex­cited about join­ing Souths where he will be used at cen­tre or full­back.

While the Bun­nies did not have a player in­volved in this year’s se­ries, they could have up to four next year should Inglis re­turn from in­jury, Ga­gai, pos­si­bly half­back Adam Reynolds and even gun back­rower An­gus Crich­ton.

They also had Cameron Mur­ray cap­tain the NSW un­der- 20s team, and Camp­bell Gra­ham named skip­per of the Blues’ un­der- 18s.

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