Pressure lifts on Demetriou’s Souths but Warriors await

George Clarke |

Under-fire Bunnies coach Jason Demetriou will be hoping to beat the Warriors for back-to-back wins.
Under-fire Bunnies coach Jason Demetriou will be hoping to beat the Warriors for back-to-back wins.

A drought-snapping win has given Jason Demetriou some temporary respite from the NRL pressure cooker and he hopes it can allow South Sydney to return to their freewheeling best.

The Rabbitohs eked out their first victory of the season against Canterbury on Good Friday after Demetriou’s long-term future had come under increasing scrutiny following their scratchy end to 2023 overspilled into this year. 

While the Bunnies were far from slick against the Bulldogs, Demetriou would have taken heart from how well they repelled a Canterbury side that had the upper hand in terms of the possession and territory.

Still 1-3 ahead of Saturday’s meeting with the Warriors at Accor Stadium, Demetriou is banking on his side building their season from here on.

“The boys have felt that bit more freedom on the field when we’ve been training from the performance and the things we value,” Demetriou said.

“That pressure is there every week, that expectation and that vulnerability that we need to put into our performance – it’s there, it’s NRL and it’ll be there for the next 20-odd weeks.

“Nothing changes for us but it allows us to play with a bit more freedom.

“Most importantly we got the rewards for the efforts we put in.”

Souths, who have named Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson on the wing to replace Alex Johnston, will also bring hooker Peter Mamouzelos onto the bench for prop Davvy Moale.

The Rabbitohs have not lost to the Warriors in their last eight meetings but the Kiwi outfit welcome Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad back at fullback with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck slotting in at centre.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck takes on the Newcastle defence during the Warriors’ eight-point win. (Andrew Cornaga/AAP PHOTOS)

Saturday’s encounter is Tuivasa-Sheck’s 200th NRL game across time with the Sydney Roosters and two stints in Auckland, either side of a brief dalliance in rugby union.

Wet weather in Sydney is expected to make the fixture a war of attrition and Demetriou is stressing the need for his side to use it to their advantage.

“Kick pressure is really important because last plays are heightened in the weather because it’s harder to get the kick away,” he said.

“Completions are probably at the pinnacle of that because if you don’t hold the ball you’re going to be defending your try line a lot and in the wet conditions.”

AAP