Demetriou facing sack after Souths’ disastrous start with Bennett, Bellamy, Burgess possible replacement options


Jason Demetriou is under pressure to remain Rabbitohs coach and could be gone by the end of the week following his team’s terrible start to 2024.

South Sydney are last after five rounds with a solitary win over Canterbury on Good Friday their only bright spot in what has been a disastrous campaign.

Star fullback Latrell Mitchell has copped a three-week ban and they have several players injured as they face the prospect of missing the finals for a second straight year.

Demetriou will have his position reviewed as early as after this Saturday’s clash with Cronulla at Accor Stadium, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, and after their worst start to a year since 2008, the 34-4 loss to the Warriors last Saturday has prompted serious questions over whether he can hold onto his job.

The 1-4 start coming after last year’s capitulation when they tumbled from the top of the ladder midway through the season to finish ninth. First on the ladder last May, Souths suffered the biggest capitulation in NRL history as they lost nine of their last 13 matches to miss the 2023 finals.

Assistant coach Ben Hornby would be parachuted into an interim coach’s role for the rest of the season if Demetriou is told his services are no longer required.

Even though he had his contract extended last year until the end of 2026, the SMH revealed the Rabbitohs have a standard clause inserted in their coaching deals that a nine-month payout is the most they will fork out if they cut the coach’s tenure short.

Bennett coached Souths prior to Demetriou taking over in 2022 and the record-breaking veteran took the team to the Grand Final the previous year when they were beaten by just two points by Penrith.

Jason Demetriou. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

He is off contract next year after bringing the Dolphins into the premiership and handing the reins over to Kristian Woolf.

Bellamy is also set to step aside at the Storm to allow Jason Ryles to take over and is another option who is reportedly on South Sydney’s radar if they move on from Demetriou.

Sam Burgess is a long shot to return to Redfern in a coaching capacity after he walked out on the club last year following a dispute with Demetriou over the preferential treatment handed out to Mitchell and Cody Walker.

He is in the early stages of a long-term deal to coach Warrington in the Super League.

Mitchell is set to miss at least three matches, potentially four, after the NRL match review committee came down hard on the Rabbitohs fullback for a high hit with his elbow on Shaun Johnson.

Mitchell quickly apologised after catching Johnson in the head with a fend-off near the in-goal area, the incident one of two that earned the controversial star a report in the first half of South Sydney’s loss to the Warriors – the second an ugly lifting tackle on Tohu Harris.

“They’re both stupid things. You’ve got to be better, simple as that,” Demetriou said.

But the South Sydney coach refused to condemn the fullback, whose track record is starting to count against him.

“I’ll have those conversations (with him) during the week,” Demetriou said. “It’s not something for me to talk about right now.

“As a group, we’ll be honest as we are every week and have a look at things we need to be better at.”

The verdict will leave Mitchell on the sidelines ahead of a testing run for the Bunnies, who face Cronulla, Melbourne and Penrith over the next month.

The Roar League Podcast is on YouTube! Click here and subscribe to make sure you never miss an episode

Souths are already without veteran winger Alex Johnston (hamstring) and forward Jai Arrow (shoulder) for another month, while centre Campbell Graham (sternum) is sidelined for the majority of the year.

Axed halfback Lachlan Ilias broke his leg in NSW Cup yesterday, while his replacement Dean Hawkins is yet to make his mark in first grade. 

Mitchell’s pending ban likely means the club will call upon 20-year-old Jye Gray to debut in his spot against Cronulla on Saturday night.

with AAP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.