Ilias to keep Souths spot despite NRL hook

·2-min read

Jason Demetriou has guaranteed Lachlan Ilias will retain South Sydney's No.7 jersey after hooking him early in the loss to St George Illawarra.

Ilias lasted 28 minutes in Thursday's heavy defeat to the Dragons, pulled off as the Dragons went to a 32-0 lead inside the half-hour mark.

The rookie halfback dropped the opening kick off but could not be criticised for the Rabbitohs' attack, given they had no good ball at all in the first half.

He also had just one of the Dragons' six tries to that point scored down his channel, while he was fended off by Mat Feagai in the lead up to another.

Demetriou reasoned his call to remove Ilias was the desire to get spark on the field with Blake Taaffe at fullback, shifting the more experienced Kodi Nikorima to the halves.

Latrell Mitchell will return at fullback next round against Parramatta, prompting the suggestion that Nikorima could move to the halves in place of Ilias.

But Demetriou insisted that was not the case, confirming Ilias would be halfback against Parramatta as the Rabbitohs fight to stay in the top eight.

"I have no doubt Lachy will be a long-term half," Demetriou said.

"But he is a guy who has barely played any footy over the past two years.

"He is 14 games into his NRL career and we are (32-0) down, it's not fair to expect him to be the one to get us out of that.

"We had some experience to put Kodi Nikorima there and Blake Taaffe on who has played in some big games.

"Next week Lachy will be there and get himself going again."

Demetriou also insisted wholesale changes were not required, claiming things had merely snowballed against the Dragons.

The Souths coach was left to lament a spate of penalties lack in the tackle count, while 13 Rabbitohs players missed at least one tackle before the break.

Ilias, meanwhile, was forced to watch on from the sidelines, after having already endured a year of criticism over the Rabbitohs' decision to let predecessor Adam Reynolds go.

But Demetriou was clear in his belief the latest setback would not hurt his young playmaker or blunt his ability to bounce back.

"It's part of the learning," Demetriou said.

"He's not the first bloke to have a bad day at the office. He wasn't on his own.

"He's resilient, he has good temperament. He will learn from that."

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