Jason Demetriou in brutal new NRL fallout at Souths amid fresh blow for Lachlan Ilias

The ongoing drama at the Rabbitohs looks set to spark a major shake-up.

A major shake-up is looming at NRL strugglers Souths, with coach Jason Demetriou's coaching tenure reportedly set to be decided within the next 48 hours and the future of injured halfback Lachlan Ilias very much up in the air. At least that's according to veteran league journalist Phil Rothfield, who claims a Tuesday board meeting at South Sydney looks set determine the fate of the under-fire coach.

Demetriou was reportedly set to be axed after the Rabbitohs' round six loss to the Sharks but earnt a stay of execution after his injury-ravaged side showed plenty of fight and bravery in one of their best displays of a poor season. The Bunnies then had a bye in round seven, before being smashed 54-20 by the Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day to ramp up the pressure on Demetriou even further.

On the left is Souths coach Jason Demetriou and halfback Lachlan Ilias on the right.
The NRL futures of coach Jason Demetriou and sidelined halfback Lachlan Ilias have both been thrown into question at Souths. Pic: Getty

The Souths' coach conceded after the huge defeat - his side's sixth in seven games this season - that the focus would once again turn towards his future as coach. And Demetriou said that would not change unless the Bunnies "start putting in performances that get the results" they want and know they're capable of.

The latest drama comes after Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga was linked with taking over the Rabbitohs on an interim basis for the rest of the season, before CEO Blake Solly brushed off suggestions before the Storm game that Demetriou was set to be shown the door. However, those reports have once again ramped up, with Rothfield telling Sky Sports Radio’s Big Sports Breakfast on Monday that the coach's future is likely to be decided this week.

“I think we’ll know in 48 hours. South Sydney have a planned board meeting scheduled for tomorrow, obviously, top of the agenda will be Jason Demetriou’s future.” Rothfield said. “We thought and we were told that he was a dead man walking a week or two ago. You saw their performance in Melbourne on Anzac Day, they’ve got Penrith this weekend.

“If he survives the board meeting, is it a Band-Aid solution to keep JD there? Is it his fault that Latrell was so ill-disciplined, that Campbell Graham hasn’t been there, that Jai Arrow’s been away, Alex Johnston’s out, Cookie hasn’t been playing as great... It’s a really difficult one.

“But when they backed him a couple of weeks ago, they didn’t back him long-term so I think they’ve got to at least come out of that board meeting with some sort of statement to say ‘he’s there for the rest of the season’. “Or ‘we’re going to look at Ben Hornby or we’re going to look at Mal Meninga just for the rest of this year, or we’re going to look at Michael Maguire to come back’. I think it’s got to be a statement board meeting and the uncertainty, which would not be helping the players, needs to be addressed.”


Souths will still be without Latrell Mitchell for the clash against Penrith as he serves the final match of a three-game ban for elbowing Warriors half Shaun Johnson. They are also without a host of injured players including Alex Johnston (hamstring), Campbell Graham (sternum) and Tevita Tatola (foot).

Dropped halfback Ilias suffered a fractured leg while playing in reserve grade and his future at the Rabbitohs also looks bleak, amid reports the Bunnies are interested in signing gun Super League halfback Lewis Dodd from St Helens for next season. Demetriou dropped Ilias for Dean Hawkins before the former's injury, but could be set for a major reshuffle of his backline when Mitchell returns from his ban, due to the form of Jye Gray at fullback and South Sydney's ongoing struggles in the halves.

Pictured left to right is St Helens star Lewis Dodd and Souths halfback, Lachlan Ilias.
South Sydney's reported interest in St Helens star Lewis Dodd could prove bad news for injured halfback, Lachlan Ilias. Pic: Getty

“I’m getting mail out of Heffron Park that Jason Demetriou will now look at moving Cody Walker to halfback, Jack Wighton to five-eighth and when Latrell’s ready to return after the Penrith game he’ll play centre because you’ve got to keep the young fullback (Jye Gray) there," Rothfield said. “Is that the answer? I don’t know, but they’ve got to try something else.

“There is a long-term effect in the Lewis Dodd signing in that Lachlan Ilias, I can’t see him staying at the Rabbitohs. I think there are other opportunities at other clubs that he or his manager (Braith Anasta) will be investigating. I will not be surprised this week if they ask Souths for permission to negotiate elsewhere.”