Jason Demetriou has one game to save South Sydney Rabbitohs coaching career, Latrell Mitchell, NRL news

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Embattled South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou is facing what is almost a win-or-get-sacked game against Cronulla next week as the club’s horror run of form threatens to end his stint.

After a woeful 34-4 loss to the Warriors on Saturday, multiple reports have detailed just how close Rabbitohs higher-ups are to swinging the axe.

The Daily Telegraph reports the situation will come to a head if Souths loses to the Sharks next week, a game where they’ll be without superstar fullback Latrell Mitchell following his three-week striking ban.

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While Demetriou’s contract was extended just last year the SMH reports the three-year extension until the end of 2026 includes a clause which limits his termination payout to nine months’ wages.

It’s the same clause the Rabbitohs have used for over a decade, and is very common in the AFL where six-month payouts are very common.

“The South Sydney board isn’t scheduled to meet until the last week of the month, but can call a crisis meeting to discuss the coach’s future,” the report states.

Assistant coach Ben Hornby, who is close with Wayne Bennett thanks to their time at the Dragons, is likely to take over if Demetriou is axed.

John Morris and Sam Burgess, who left the club along with eight months ago after a fallout with Demetriou, are also surprisingly in the mix.

“However it is hard to see him (Burgess) returning to South Sydney without significant changes to the club’s hierarchy, given they strongly sided with Demetriou last year,” the SMH wrote.

Burgess left his role as assistant coach after a falling out with Demetriou, which Paul Kent reported at the time was partly due to his “willingness” to vocalise his concerns with preferential treatment towards Mitchell and Cody Walker.

“Well it appears so,” Kent said at the time when asked on NRL 360 if Burgess was right.

“Without being involved in all the intimate details, what came out about what Sam’s concerns were have proved fruitful and they’ve also not been addressed.”

“Obviously Sam suggested there were issues and it looks as if those issues haven’t gone away, so it looks like Sam has a point,” journalist Brent Read added.

South Sydney management share that opinion according to the SMH report, which claims they are “starting to realise there is some validity” to the issues Burgess raised.

“Burgess, a close friend of co-owner Russell Crowe, disagreed with Demetriou’s coaching methods but officials were unimpressed by the way in which Burgess expressed his opinions,” added the report.

The leading full-time options would include Craig Bellamy and Wayne Bennett.

Demetriou’s poor performance replacing Morris as the team’s defensive coach – given they have conceded 162 points this season – has become a major point of concern.

The SMH report claimed Demetriou was advised by South Sydney to hire a senior assistant to replace Morris but “refused to do so” and instead decided to promote NSW Cup coach Joe O’Callaghan.

“The Rabbitohs, who persuaded Demetriou to take on Burgess as an assistant last year despite the coach’s misgivings, didn’t want to tell him who he could and couldn’t appoint again,” continued the report.

“Compounding their frustration is that Morris has gone to work with Benji Marshall at the Wests Tigers and has made significant improvements to their once frail defensive line.”

Teammates are also said to be frustrated with Latrell Mitchell’s performances with club figures “questioning his desire to play rugby league”.

The SMH reported the Rabbitohs held a team meeting after their Good Friday win over the Bulldogs where the nominations for the Jason Clark award, chosen by players to reward teammates who show courage and resilience, were announced.

Isaiah Tass and Mitchell were nominated for a try-saving tackle on Josh Addo-Carr but winger Alex Johnston “piped up and questioned the coach as to why Mitchell was being lauded for an illegal challenge that could have resulted in the fullback being suspended and hurting the team,” per the report.

SMH reports Mitchell was off sick with an ear infection and as a result was not in the room when Johnston voiced his concerns, with Demetriou defending the Rabbitohs fullback by instead placing more emphasis on the fact he had got in a position to save the try in the first place.

Originally published as James Demetriou facing win or get sacked game as coaching future hangs in the balance

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