We've gone Swine Flu mad: Souths boss

South Sydney boss Shane Richardson says he is sick and tired of hearing about a so-called ‘swine flu’ epidemic, claiming blanket media coverage of the virus is damaging the NRL.<br><br>And he has labelled suggestions that games could be called off this weekend as more players are placed into quarantine as little more than an AFL conspiracy.<br><br>The Rabbitohs this week placed State of Origin stars Michael Crocker and Craig Wing under quarantine as a precaution on the recommendation of doctors after they showed flu-like symptoms. Both men were given the all-clear after tests yesterday came back negative.<br><br>A barrage of media phone calls throughout the afternoon and more this morning proved too much for Richardson, who said today that it was time the focus returned to rugby league.<br><br>“I am so sick of hearing about swine flu,” Richardson told NRL.com ahead of the Rabbitohs’ clash with Melbourne at Members Equity Stadium in Perth this Saturday.<br><br>“It’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and just another case of the hammering we always seem to want to give our great game.<br><br>“I’ve been a rugby league administrator for 30 years, I’ve coached at every level of the game, I’ve sold more raffle tickets than anyone else in my position in the game I can assure you and it angers me that every time we start climbing up the ladder it gets kicked out from beneath us.<br><br>“There are people within the AFL that are deliberately spreading rumours that NRL games are going to be called off this weekend.<br><br>“It frustrates the hell out of me.<br><br>“We’ve grown our membership at Souths to 15,000 – we’ve got more ticketed members than anybody in Sydney – but it’s hard to drive that need for membership when every day the game gets absolutely bashed.<br><br>“We’re trying to promote this wonderful game in Perth this weekend, something positive from our point of view, when out of the blue comes swine flu.<br><br>“I can’t believe how many ladders our game must have walked under.”<br><br>Bulldogs and Queensland prop Ben Hannant became the first and only player to be diagnosed with swine flu last weekend but the news has spread like wildfire through the NRL with seven clubs quarantining players pending tests this week.<br><br>North Queensland boss Peter Parr warned on Monday that the word ‘crisis’ was way over the top and Richardson went one further today, claiming some journalists had gone ‘swine flu mad’.<br><br>“We’ve only had one positive test and suddenly the world is coming to an end,” he said.<br><br>“I had a journalist call me yesterday after speaking to Michael Crocker and say, ‘Gee Crocker doesn’t sound too good on the phone does he?’<br><br>“I mean, he has a slight sniffle and people suddenly think it must be swine flu!<br><br>“It’s madness.<br><br>“The whole game is being clouted.<br><br>“I don’t get frustrated at reports of Tony Zappia or player behaviour or whatever because you have to live up to your responsibilities but when something like swine flu comes along it just drives you crazy.”<br><br>Both Crocker and Wing will be fit and ready to play this weekend in a clash that Richardson said could eventually pave the way for a Perth team to return to the NRL for the first time since the Perth Reds was disbanded in 1997.<br><br>“They want to be back in the game again,” he said.<br><br>“If they can get 14-15,000 people there they will automatically be well ahead of South Australia.<br><br>“The consortium over there will be looking at putting in a bid for 2013 but in order to do so they need to show that they can support the game now.<br><br>“But it’s looking like it will be close to a sell-out which is a positive for them and a positive for us as well.<br><br>“We’d like to take two games a year over there if we could to make sure that rugby league has a strong foothold and to promote the game as well as promoting our sponsors and the South Sydney brand.”<br><br>