Demetriou has been ‘dragged through the mud’: Murray

Jasper Bruce |

Cameron Murray (left) has leapt to the defence of beleaguered Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.
Cameron Murray (left) has leapt to the defence of beleaguered Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou.

Cameron Murray has delivered the strongest defence yet of Jason Demetriou, saying the beleaguered South Sydney coach has been “dragged through the mud” during his side’s dire start to the season.

The Souths captain said the players had been hurt by external speculation over Demetriou’s future and had made a pact to weaponise the pain and turn their faltering campaign around.

The drums were well and truly beating for Demetriou ahead of the Rabbitohs’ last game before their round-seven bye – which they entered having won only four of their previous 15 games.

But the Rabbitohs showed enough progress in a gallant 34-22 loss to Cronulla for Demetriou to hold onto his job, the side overcoming three mid-game injuries to push the high-flying Sharks.

Cameron Murray runs with the ball against the Sharks.
Cameron Murray and the Rabbitohs put up a good fight against the Sharks in round six. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

Only wins can ease the pressure long-term though, and the Rabbitohs have taken the step of hiring new assistant coach David Furner as they chase a second victory in 2024.

Demetriou’s detractors have questioned his ability to handle the bigger personalities in the playing group, an issue raised by former Souths assistant Sam Burgess before his sudden departure last season.

But Murray said the Rabbitohs remained united behind Demetriou, delivering the most effusive defence of the coach by any Souths player so far.

“We want to play good footy for him because he doesn’t deserve the things that are being said about him in the media and being dragged through the mud like he has been over the last month,” Murray said.

“It’s something that we’ve taken pretty hard on-board as a playing group and it’s something we’ve highlighted: we want to play for him. 

“We want to make sure that we’re using it as motivation to get some wins together. We all love him here and are confident in his coaching ability. 

“I don’t think he’s deserved what’s been dished up.”

The Rabbitohs enjoyed three days off during their first bye of the season, with players and coach returning to Heffron Park with a spring in their step.

Jason Demetriou at training.
Demetriou (pictured) “doesn’t deserve what’s been dished up”, skipper Cameron Murray says. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

“(Demetriou) has been pretty good considering the circumstances,” Murray said.

“He turns up, does his best to be better than he was yesterday and continue fighting and being the leader that he is.

“We’re still in high spirits, turning up to training with a smile on our face, getting to do what we love every day.”

The Rabbitohs have five games before their next bye and face competition heavyweights Melbourne and Penrith over the next fortnight. 

Clashes with the mercurial St George Illawarra and North Queensland follow soon after.

Murray is hoping the week off can help Souths start anew heading into a potentially season-defining five weeks.

“You probably need (a break) in times like these. Everyone’s feeling pretty refreshed now,” he said.

“We’ve looked at the next block of games and highlighted what we want to stand for, who we are. It’s a fresh slate for us.”