Jason Demetriou leaves training.
Under-pressure South Sydney head coach Jason Demetriou leaves training on Tuesday. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Demetriou in limbo as Souths board defers coaching call

Jasper Bruce April 30, 2024

Jason Demetriou says it is “not easy” to be the subject of ongoing scrutiny after South Sydney deferred making a call on his future at the club.

The Rabbitohs board met for more than three hours at their Maroubra headquarters on Tuesday morning to address the future of embattled third-year coach Demetriou, who has led the last-placed Souths to only one win from seven games this season.

But the perennial heavyweights have deferred any public announcements until after 5pm (AEST), when chairman Nick Pappas can be looped in from London for a second meeting.

Demetriou presided over training on Tuesday morning as the board mulled their options, and faced a media scrum as he left Heffron Park just after lunchtime – possibly for the last time.

Jason Demetriou (left) with Souths player Tallis Duncan.
 Demetriou presided over training at South’s Maroubra HQ on Tuesday morning. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

“It’s not easy but it is what it is,” Demetriou said of the pressure.

“It’s a big club, we’re not performing, so questions have to be asked. I understand that, I respect it.”

Demetriou remains in limbo ahead of Thursday’s clash against reigning premiers Penrith, telling reporters he had not yet been informed of any coaching changes.

Assistants David Furner and Ben Hornby are waiting in the wings to take over in an interim capacity if Demetriou is sacked.

“I’m prepping for tomorrow’s training,” Demetriou said.

“I want to get on with coaching the footy team, that’s what I’m paid to do.”

Considered a head coach in waiting, Hornby dodged reporters by leaving Heffron Park through a side exit shortly before Demetriou departed through the front door.

The Rabbitohs’ slow start to the year has come after they capitulated from finals contention last season by losing seven of their last 10 games.

Club legend and assistant coach Sam Burgess quit amid the downturn, dogged by claims he disagreed with what was described as preferential treatment given to star players by Demetriou.

This year, Demetriou survived swirling rumours about his job security prior to the club’s round-seven bye, guiding the Rabbitohs to a spirited 34-22 loss to high-flying Cronulla in the face of three mid-game injuries.

But similar composure eluded Souths in round eight as they were thrashed 54-20 by Melbourne on Anzac Day.

Demetriou was pictured embracing several players at training on Tuesday as the pressure continued to mount.

Jack Wighton hugs Souths' departing head coach Jason Demetriou.
 Five-eighth Jack Wighton was among the players to show their support for Demetriou. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

“The boys have been outstanding, that’s never been an issue,” Demetriou said.

“They’re tight, it’s a tight group. They’re battling with injuries at the moment, half a squad missing, and they keep turning up. 

“They’ll turn up Thursday night as well.”

But it remains to be seen under whom they will turn up.

South Sydney have been heavily linked with Wayne Bennett, Demetriou’s former mentor at the Rabbitohs, who is due to leave the Dolphins at the end of the season.

Bennett, who led South Sydney to the 2021 grand final, has been coy when quizzed about his coaching future beyond this year.