Cameron Murray.
Souths are looking after banged up skipper Cameron Murray after three straight disappointing losses. Image by Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS
  • rugby league

Murray, Wighton on ice as under-fire Souths face Dogs

George Clarke March 25, 2024

South Sydney are keeping captain Cameron Murray and star recruit Jack Wighton on limited duties as the pressure ramps up on head coach Jason Demetriou.

Winless through their first three games and ahead of a potentially season-defining game against Canterbury, the Rabbitohs are feeling the heat following a humiliating 48-6 loss to the Sydney Roosters.

It’s why, with their season on life support, Demetriou limited the involvement of lock Murray and centre Wighton at the club’s Maroubra training base on Monday.

Murray is nursing a bursa issue in his knee, while Wighton had a heavily-strapped thigh.

Jack Wighton and Sandon Smith.
 Jack Wighton is met head on by the Roosters’ Sandon Smith. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

Souths have no concerns that the duo will be available to face the Bulldogs, who are fresh off a 32-0 hammering of Gold Coast.

Murray did not complete the full session but has still made his impact felt as they bid to relieve the pressure on Demetriou.

“I think the skipper summed it up at the start of training,” said winger Alex Johnston.

“We’re only going to get through this together, stick with each other and fight for every play when we’re out there and things will start sticking.”

Demetriou said the Roosters defeat was the “lowest point” of his NRL coaching career, but Johnston has been here before.

He was part of the side 10 years ago which got off to a sluggish start but finished the season with a premiership ring.

“I think it got brought up by Tommy Burgess who has been around as long as me, if not longer,” Johnston said.

“He said that in 2014, after our first four games, we’d only won one and we’re in a similar position.

“We need to win, we want to win and that’s what we’ve got to aim for this week.

“That was a pretty good year for us so it would be nice to replicate that.”

The Rabbitohs’ underwhelming run of form has led to questions being asked of the club’s direction under Demetriou.

Cameron Murray and Jason Demetriou.
 Cameron Murray and Jason Demetriou answer post-match questions after their Roosters loss. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

It follows last year’s horror end to the season when club great Sam Burgess was shown the door and Souths missed the top eight after leading the NRL through 11 rounds.

Back-rower Jacob Host was keen to underline that the bad habits from 2023 hadn’t followed the Bunnies into 2024.

“He (Demetriou) stands up and faces the critics every week and he never backs down from it,” said Host, who will bring up his 100th NRL game at Accor Stadium on Friday.

“He’s always got our backs, and now we have to repay the faith and show him that we’ve got his back.

“It’s a different team to last year.

“We were disappointed with how we finished last year, but it’s a new season.

“We had a whole pre-season training together and I think we built a lot of good things over the pre-season, but we need to start showing it on the field.”

Meanwhile, Dean Hawkins appears to have held his spot in the halves after being promoted to the NRL side at the expense of Lachlan Ilias last week.