Cody Walker's call on Jason Demetriou after Mal Meninga admission about Souths saga

Meninga has responded to reports linking him with the South Sydney coaching role.

Cody Walker admits his South Sydney players were fighting for besieged coach Jason Demetriou on Saturday night against Cronulla, and will continue to do so despite reports he is facing the axe. Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga is one named being linked to the Rabbitohs NRL coaching role and he responded to the speculation during South Sydney's gutsy 34-22 defeat to the Sharks at Accor Stadium.

The scoreline didn't do justice to how bravely Souths fought after losing numerous players to HIA incidents and injuries and only ending up with one man left on their bench in the second half. The brutal reality is that it was the club's fifth loss in six games this season, leaving the proud club last on the ladder ahead of next week's bye.

Pictured left to right are coach Jason Demetriou and Souths star Cody Walker, plus Mal Meninga.
Coach Jason Demetriou and Souths star Cody Walker both spoke after their latest NRL defeat as Mal Meninga addressed his links to the club. Pic: Getty

Demetriou stormed out of his press conference after only 27 seconds on Friday after being questioned about his future at the club. It came amid reports that he had to beat the Sharks on Saturday night to keep his job, while other reports suggested club powerbrokers had already made up their mind to go in a different direction.

The Souths coach said after the game that he "can't be prouder" of how his players performed in the wake of adversity, with captain Cameron Murray among the injured men and close to $4 million in talent on the sidelines - including suspended fullback Latrell Mitchell. And a defiant Demetriou said he remained optimistic of keeping his job, despite just five wins in 19 games.

Seen here, Souths captain Cam Murray in the NRL.
The injury carnage for Souths included a concussion for captain Cam Murray in a brutal first half against the Sharks. Pic: Getty

"Nobody has told me otherwise. We'll review the game, turn up, if not, we'll find out," the Souths coach said after the game. "We'll rest up and get some good training in the bye week... I won't walk around with my head down, I've got no reason to. I'm really proud that I get to represent these boys, our fans, our members, the staff. I'm excited about turning this around. "

Mal Meninga addresses links to Souths coaching role

Demetriou's comments came after Kangaroos coach Meninga addressed growing speculation he could take over as Souths coach in an interim capacity for the rest of the season. Meninga said while he would not rule out such a move, he insisted there had been no approach from the club.

"I haven't had any conversations with the club at all, but for whatever reason I've seem to been attached to this," Meninga said on Fox League. “Poor old Jason Demetriou, I feel so sorry for him. Every time he’s mentioned or does an interview, my name is mentioned but I haven’t heard anything official so it’s still a mystery to me...

“You never say no to anything. You look at all offers, you look at all opportunities to coach in the NRL." The Kangaroos coach made it clear though that his priority lay with the Australian Test side and NRL great Cooper Cronk told Fox League that the rumblings around Demetriou while he is still coaching, should be a "red flag" to potential replacements such as Meninga.

“The thing that worries me is that Jason is still coaching the team and there’s leaks, no one has approached Mal and there’s this whole noise floating around,” Cronk said. “If I was interested in coaching that would be a red flag for me. I just don’t know why that’s got out and why it would when you’ve still got a coach in charge of running your football team. It’s just a bit weird how it’s getting a lot of attention — rightly so — but just way too much noise.”


Cody Walker says Souths players fought for Jason Demetriou

Souths five-eighth Walker has been one of a number of underperforming players this season but had his best match of the season against Cronulla, whose victory came off the back of a sublime display from man-of-the-match Ronaldo Mulitalo. And Walker admitted the Rabbitohs - who lost Tyrone Munro (shoulder) and Tevita Tatola (ankle) as well as Murray, Jacob Host and Jye Gray to HIAs in the first half - were playing for their under-pressure coach.

"We always try and go out there and fight for the jersey and fight for the coach," Walker said. "We've got tremendous respect for JD and how much work he puts in. We wanted to show that tonight. I thought we did that. The scoreline probably doesn't reflect the tightness in the game. But you can see the effort and the energy and everything happened."

with AAP