‘I won’t explain my reasoning’: Demetriou curt on Ilias and Latrell questions after Souths’ dramatic week


Jason Demetriou batted back questions about his selection policy and internal strife at South Sydney, stating that his team would take no mind of noise from the outside ahead of their derby clash with the Sydney Roosters on Friday night.

The coach has replaced Lachlan Ilias in the 7 jumper ahead with reigning NSW Cup player of the year Dean Hawkins given a crack in top grade, while headlines have been dominated by Latrell Mitchell’s x-rated interview and Josh Mansour’s comments on his coaching style.

The coach fronted the media at the Bunnies’ Maroubra base, but refused to be drawn on his selections.

“I won’t explain my reasoning,” he said when asked for his decision to change halfbacks ahead of the crunch clash on Friday night.

“It’s a discussion for Lachy and myself. We’ve had that in depth and we’ll continue to have those discussions. It’s a step sideways to go forward again, and that’s how we’ll approach it.

“He’s fine. It’s footy. We pick 17 blokes every week. It’s not that dramatic.

“There’s nothing to handle. Inside the four walls is rock solid. We’ve trained well, we’re prepping for a big game Friday night against the Roosters. It’s outside the four walls so it’s not a problem for us.”

On the outside noise around Latrell, Demetriou reiterated that it wasn’t affecting what happened at the Bunnies.

“Again, it’s about what goes on within our four walls,” he said.

“That’s the beauty about this week, it’s been all business. It’s been around what we need to control. We have a real focus on ourselves and put the performance in on Friday night.

“He (Latrell) is as important as anybody else who wears the South Sydney shirt tomorrow night.”

Demetriou instead focussed on the opportunity given to Hawkins and the chance to perform for Jack Wighton on debut as well as other milestone men.

“(We want him) to be Deano,” he said of the expectations on the new half.

“To organise our team, get us around the field and kick well. The big part of this is a young kid who has earned the right to wear the number 7 for South Sydney.

“We’re real proud of the journey he’s had and he deserves this opportunity.

“(Wighton’s debut) is huge, really excited. It feels like it’s been quite a long time coming.

“There was a lot of hype around Jack when he signed and then missing the first two rounds but his energy is important and this week has been infectious.

Jack Wighton is placed on report by referee Ashley Klein. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

“I know how excited the boys are to get out there and represent for his debut game but also Cam’s (Murray) 150th and Taane Milne plays his 50th as well.

“He’ll go out there and be Jack.”

Souths are 0-2 to start the year, but the coach insisted that his men were close to

“We’re not far off,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we lead 20-12 against Manly and had a nine minute period that we needed to address and showed some good signs defensively and improvements against the Broncos.

“It’s about improving some little areas again this week. It’s Round 3, we’re not going to be the team that we’re going to be at the back end of the year now. We’re going to build into that.

“We’ve had a tough start but we’re making improvements.

“I leave you guys to talk about whether it’s over the top or not. I’m focussed on coaching the boys on Friday night. I literally can’t wait, I’m so excited.

“It definitely has a Christmas Eve feel about it, doesn’t it. It’s an exciting game, as derby games are in sport. That’s what makes the NRL massive.

“We’re excited about it, as the Roosters will be, so let’s get it on Friday night.”

A few miles to the north, Trent Robinson was well aware of the challenges that his side would face.

“They had periods in both games where they looked really strong and so our preparation for that has been understanding why those periods came about and also how to nullify them,” he said at the Roosters’ captain’s run presser.

On the Ilias selection, he empathised given the similar situation that his own halfback, Sam Walker, had gone through last year, only to respond strongly late in the year after suffering an injury in reserve grade, while stating that his side would be aware of what Hawkins could bring to the game.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson talks with Sam Walker at Allegiant Stadium. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“It felt like a long time (out) because of the injury he sustained there so it ended up being a four-month rather than a few week’s learning,” said Robbo of Walker.

“But I think you can see the quality of Sam and we’ve all seen it. That development takes different paths. We like the path that we’re on.

“With Lachlan, there’s doubt that he’s shown he can play NRL and it’s always how they accept this learning and then want to develop in the next few weeks but he’s a high-quality player.

“(Hawkins) is 25. He’s played a lot of footy in his career. So we know what to expect there. He’s been in their system for a while so I don’t think there’s a big change (in what we have to do).”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.