Spirited Souths effort buys Demetriou more time

Scott Bailey |

Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has still got the support of his team as he fights for his future.
Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou has still got the support of his team as he fights for his future.

South Sydney’s spirited loss to Cronulla is set to buy Jason Demetriou more time as Rabbitohs coach, with Cody Walker insistent the players remain willing to fight for their embattled mentor.

Torn apart by injuries and left with only one man on the bench for the second half, Souths fell to their fifth loss of the season on Saturday night.

But the fact they were able to stick with the ladder leaders in the second half has done enough to keep the wolves at bay, with no immediate call to be made on Demetriou’s future.

Despite a bye next week, Demetriou still faces a hard road ahead, with matches against Melbourne and Penrith in the following fortnight before the club’s draw clears up.

South Sydney’s next scheduled board meeting will fall between those two games.

Chairman Nick Pappas said before the Sharks match he needed to see some new-found determination and resilience – and Souths delivered both on Saturday night.

Star five-eighth Walker said the team had played with Demetriou in mind.

Cody Walker
“We fight for the jersey and fight for the coach,” Cody Walker insists. (James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS)

“We always try and go out there and fight for the jersey and fight for the coach,” he said after the match.

“We’ve got tremendous respect for JD and how much work he puts in. We wanted to show that. I thought we did that. 

“You can see the effort and the energy.”

Captain Cameron Murray should return from a concussion for Souths’ next game against Melbourne on April 25, but Tyrone Munro (collarbone) and Tevita Tatola (foot) remain in serious doubt.

Demetriou said on Saturday night he expected to remain coach for the Anzac Day clash, despite a run that has brought just five wins in 19 games since his side topped the table last May.

The Rabbitohs’ defence remains a big issue – they have conceded 26 points or more in 15 of those games.

Demetriou said he had every reason to be impressed by Saturday’s effort.

“I can’t be prouder of the boys,” he said. 

“As a coach, what you want (the players) to do is turn up and fight for each other and fight for their jersey and show what the club means to them. We saw that (against Cronulla).

“I won’t walk around with my head down. I’ve got no reason to.

“I’ve worked my backside off to get into this position as head coach of one of the biggest rugby league clubs in the world.

“I’m excited about turning it around. If that changes, time will tell.”

Demetriou also offered an explanation for storming out of a press conference after 27 seconds on Friday, following four questions about his future.

The Souths coach had been subject to reports the club were eyeing off Mal Meninga as a potential interim replacement for the rest of the year.

“I’m walking out to do a press conference with the noise that’s going on and the things that have been said and done,” Demetriou said. 

“There’s no real point me standing there answering questions about it. It doesn’t serve any purpose for the players, it doesn’t serve any purpose for me. 

“So I said what I needed to say and I ended the interview.”