Craig Wing.
Craig Wing. AAP

Winging it to Japan

SOUTH Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson says the club won't rush into splashing the cash on a replacement for rugby union-bound star Craig Wing.

But that didn't stop the Rabbitohs boss from throwing up the likes of off-contract Brisbane star Karmichael Hunt and banished former Canberra playmaker Todd Carney as players of interest.

Rabbitohs prodigal son Wing was yesterday released from the final two years of his deal with the club, to take up a two-year offer with a yet- to-be-named Japanese rugby union side once he finishes this season with Souths.

The announcement signalled the end of an eventful two-year return to Redfern for the local junior, who was paraded with great pomp and ceremony when lured back to club from the Sydney Roosters midway through 2007.

His decision to quit has left the Rabbitohs with an unexpected cash windfall, though Richardson was adamant the club would not be forced into making a signing.

“We never budgeted for this, we were under our cap and we didn't require Craig to go to be under our cap, but we'll obviously have a substantial amount money that we can spend,” Richardson said.

“There's lots of targets out there ... we'll just see what happens the next few weeks and keep our powder dry and, you know, Mick Crocker fell out of a tree and you never know what could fall out of the next tree.”

Asked if the Bunnies would go for a like-for-like replacement for Wing, Richardson said:

“It doesn't have to be - we may look up front, we may look anywhere - there's very few utility players running around like Craig Wing.

“But you've got (Todd) Carney on the market, you've got Karmichael Hunt - you've got a fair few blokes out there. We'll bide our time and see what happens.”

Richardson said Wing approached him a few weeks ago seeking permission to look overseas, the NSW Origin utility seeking some financial security following reports he had lost large sums of money in failed business deals.

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