Jason Demetriou sacked, Wayne Bennett return, South Sydney Rabbitohs coach, Round 9 vs Panthers, replacement, board meeting

Jason Demetriou sacked, Wayne Bennett return, South Sydney Rabbitohs coach, Round 9 vs Panthers, replacement, board meeting

Jason Demetriou has been sacked as South Sydney Rabbitohs coach effective immediately following a crunch board meeting with rumours Wayne Bennett will return in 2025.

The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield confirmed Demetriou had been informed of his sacking midway through NRL 360.

He reported Ben Hornby would take charge, combining with assistant coaches including John Sutton.

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Souths confirmed Demetriou’s sacking later on Tuesday night.

“The South Sydney Rabbitohs have terminated the coaching contract of Head Coach Jason Demetriou today, effective immediately.

Following a meeting of the Football Club Board, in conjunction with club management, it has been decided that the Club needs to go in a new direction with its coaching following a less-than-satisfactory series of results over the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

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Jason Demetriou has been sacked by Souths.Source: Getty Images

Rabbitohs CEO, Blake Solly, said: “The Board and management feel that now is the time to make a change to the leadership of our football program in terms of the head coaching role.

“There is no doubting Jason’s work ethic or his drive for success, but unfortunately that success has not been forthcoming over the past 12 months.

“We wish Jason, his wife Natalie and his daughters the very best of luck in the future and we thank him for his service to our Club over the past five-and-a-half years.”

Ben Hornby will take control of the team as Interim Head Coach for the remainder of the 2024 season.

‘We expect a bounce back from Souths’ | 04:24

Rothfield believes Wayne Bennett is Souths’ No.1 target to replace Demetriou in 2025.

“I don’t think Souths would have done something as drastic as sacked their coach, eight rounds into the season, or the fact they have flown so poorly,” Rothfield said.

“I don’t have confirmation that this stage that a deal has been done with Wayne Bennett.

“But rest assured, he’s their number one target. They will do everything they possibly can in the very near future to get him back on board at the Rabbitohs next year.”

James Graham believes Demetriou’s position was untenable.

“I guess we kind of expected this to happen it was a matter of when today,” Graham said.

“I don’t think anyone in the NRL community would have been surprised or chocked by this.

“I feel for Jason Demetriou. I really do. I played against him in the Super League. I really like what he has done in terms of his journey, but unfortunately for a number of reasons, it became untenable.”

Wade Graham had an issue with how Souths went about the brutal call.

“It seems like it has been coming for a while and for Jason’s wellbeing and his future it is good that it has happened,” Graham said.

‘We love playing against the best teams’ | 09:46

“It annoys me as someone who loved my club so much. As a player all I wanted to do was put the club first and make it a better place.

“For him to say that Souths haven’t released it and he has got a text message from someone in the room. Like that is the top people at their club.

“They are in a board meeting and someone has texted a journalist to report before it is even released.

“Maybe it is not just Jason who is the issue. Maybe there is deeper issues at that club.”

Braith Anasta believes it was only a matter of time for when Demetriou was tapped on the shoulder.

“I think it has been happening too much at that club,” Anasta said.

“It is big news, but it’s not that we didn’t expect it. It has happened.”

Martin backs Edwards’ NSW call up | 01:03

Graham and Anasta believe Hornby’s links to Bennett could mean he is returning to South Sydney.

“I have a feeling that the signing of Dodd could be linked to Wayne,” Anasta said.

“I don’t think they would have made a call as big as this without knowing who the head coach was going to be.

“I think with Wayne’s ties with the Super League and the English rugby league, and Dodd playing underneath his assistant at the moment.”

Wayne Bennett has ties to the Lewis Dodd signing.Source: Supplied

Graham confirmed Anasta’s contention.

“Kristian Woolf is at the Dolphins and he brought Dodd onto the scene,” Graham said.

“Anybody that has signed Lewis Dodd would have spoke to Kristian Woolf. It is a matter of fact he brought him through and he speaks very highly of him.

“He won him a couple of competitions over there and he absolutely loves this kid. I think if it hadn’t have been for Katoa, the Dolphins would have gone after him.

“On the potential coach coming in Ben Hornby you connect the dots and he was coached by Wayne Bennett in 2010 at the Dragons when they won a premiership, so that line of communication is open, which adds to that story.”

‘His value is up’ Walker deal a priority | 01:44

Souths’ 54-20 hammering by the Storm on ANZAC Day was the final nail in his coaching coffin after a terrible run or results.

Souths were on top of the table after 11 rounds last season, before a stunning fall from grace saw them miss the finals.

Lewis Dodd was a curious signing given Demetriou’s pending sacking.Source: Getty Images

A solitary win over the Bulldogs and six losses to start the 2024 season sees Souths anchored to the bottom of the table.

Demetriou coached Souths to 31 wins from 60 games for a win percentage of 51.67, including one preliminary final appearance in 2022.

Prior to that he was assistant coach under Wayne Bennett during his three year tenure at Souths which culminated in the 2021 Grand Final loss to the Panthers.

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