Demetriou to be ‘given the time he needs’ as Souths back coach – for now – after Mal all but turns down job


Jason Demetriou will get more time to turn South Sydney around with Bunnies bosses set to give the coach a stay of execution.

The news, reported by Newscorp, comes as Mal Meninga, who had been lined up as a replacement, distanced himself from the job live on Fox League.

Souths have the bye this weekend, usually an ideal time to ditch a coach, followed by two of the toughest asks in rugby league with a trip to Melbourne and a visit from the Panthers.

“Jason will be given the time he needs,” said CEO Blake Solly in the Daily Telegraph.

“The club’s only desire is to see JD succeed. You can show enough in a loss for everyone to be positive about the performance.

“I think the performance showed that with plenty of room for further improvement in coming weeks. If we continue to grow in confidence, determination to win and stability – Jason will be given the time he needs.”

The Bunnies are 1-5 at the bottom of the ladder, which might realistically become 1-7 before long given the arduous fixture list.

They lost to Cronulla on Saturday night but were defiant in the wake of a massive injury crisis that saw three starters depart before halftime and the Bunnies play the entire second stanza with just one man on the bench.

The word from the higher-ups had been that they wanted to see a performance, and amid massive adversity, they got one.

Senior players, Tom Burgess and Cody Walker in particular, were excellent with their backs against the wall in the second half. It was not the performance of a team that had lost faith in their coach.

In the post-match press conference, Demetriou was defiant, telling journalists that he expected to be in post for the coming games.

“I expect so,” he said when asked if he would take the team to Melbourne.

“Nobody’s told me otherwise, so we’ll review the game turn up, if not, we’ll find out,” he said after the loss to the Sharks.

“It’s not ideal, don’t get me wrong, you don’t want to be going through this but the reality is it’s elite sport. We’re a huge club.”

The performance in defeat to Cronulla certainly strengthened Demetriou’s hand, but it can’t be discounted that the man who had been lined up as an interim boss all but turned the position down live on Fox League earlier in the day.

Meninga likely faces a choice between his current gig as coach of the Kangaroos and a club position, with the NRL unlikely to sanction a dual role.

“My Kangaroo duties is foremost in my mind,” he said

“I want to complete, I want to go to a third World Cup and the game’s given me the privilege to do that. I want to be a part of all that.

Did Australian coach Mal Meninga underestimate the Kiwis? (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“If it’s going to impede or prevent me from coaching the Australian side at the end of the year then it’s probably a big fat no from me.”

He also mentioned the public floating of his name without an official approach as a reason not to take the job.

“I haven’t been approached and all of a sudden my name’s been associated with the story,” said Meninga.

“To me that sends some poor signals from somewhere — is it the board?

“I’ve gone underground with all of this because obviously my name is associated with it. Has anyone else from the club spoken about it at all? Again that’s a red flag for me as well.

“If no one is willing to step up and talk on behalf of the club and tell exactly what’s happening, that to me is a sign that you maybe shouldn’t get involved with that club.”

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