Jason Demetriou sacked after awful Rabbitohs campaign amid fresh twist for Latrell Mitchell

The Rabbitohs coach took charge of his last game against the Storm on the weekend.

South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou has been sacked after an emergency Rabbitohs board meeting finished up on Tuesday night. Demetriou was reportedly set to be sacked after the Bunnies' round six loss to the Sharks but narrowly avoided the axe after the side showed plenty of fight and bravery in a game where not much went right.

Souths then had a bye in round seven, before being smashed 54-20 by the Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day. The Rabbitohs currently sit at the bottom of the ladder and still have one more game left for Latrell Mitchell to sit out his three-week ban. But Demetriou won't be there to welcome him back having been sacked on Tuesday night.

South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou.
South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou (pictured) has been sacked as teh Rabbitohs coach. (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Demetriou turned up and led the Rabbitohs training session as the side prepared for Thursday night’s game against premiers Penrith. As he and the players braved the driving rain, Souths' board held talks over the club's direction and his immediate coaching future.

However, by the end of training on Tuesday no decision had been made. The club deferred any public announcement on his future until after 5pm (AEST), when chairman Nick Pappas can be looped in from London for a second meeting. Demetriou was none the wiser on his future as he left the club’s Heffron Park headquarters after midday. The announcement he would leave the club came after 7pm on Tuesday.

The call on Demetriou’s future comes as halfback Lachlan Illias is set to head out the door, having been granted permission to explore his options elsewhere after the Bunnies signed English half Lewis Dodd for next season. Demetriou was one of the Ilias' biggest supporters and the decision to pursue Dodd was viewed by many as indicative of the club's view of Demetriou.

It is expected assistant coaches David Furner and Ben Hornby will now take charge for Thursday's clash against reigning premiers Penrith after the Rabbitohs chose to terminate Demetriou's contract. Demetriou had re-signed through 2026 last October but it is understood that the coach has a clause in his contract that entitles him to only a nine-month payout.


South Sydney have been heavily linked with ex-coach Wayne Bennett - Demetriou's former mentor at the club - with the coach set to leave the Dolphins at the end of the season. But Bennett - who led the Rabbitohs to the 2021 grand final - has refused to speculate about his coaching future beyond 2024.

Reports have also linked former assistant coach Sam Burgess to the Souths job, although the Rabbitohs legend has played down talks of him taking the job this year as he continues a successful first stint as head coach in the UK with Warrington.

While 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, the star fullback is reportedly considering making himself unavailable for Origin in a bid to help rebuild the Rabbitohs' season.

While it is unlikely he would be selected by Michael Maguire at least for Game I, AAP reports the decision to declare himself out of State of Origin isn't his to make. Speaking hypothetically given there has been no request from Mitchell, NRL officials stated on Monday that players are contractually obliged to make themselves available for selection and clubs must also release players if picked.

However, there are some exceptions to the rule. For example, last year Kalyn Ponga pulled out of the Maroons squad on medical grounds, after an extended period out of action following repeated concussions. South Sydney centre Jack Wighton also made himself unavailable for selection, however, that was only permitted due to him making a permanent retirement from State of Origin.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - JULY 14:  Latrell Mitchell of the Blues celebrates with Brian To'o of the Blues after scoring a try during game three of the 2021 State of Origin Series between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons at Cbus Super Stadium on July 14, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
Latrell Mitchell did not feature in NSW's back-to-back series losses but was selected at centre when last fit for Origin in 2021.

But neither of those circumstances apply to Mitchell if he does attempt to make himself unavailable for selection. Mitchell didn't feature in NSW's back-to-back series losses but was selected at centre for the Blues in 2021.

The NRL says they are not concerned that skipping Origin would become a wider trend, with match payments of $30,000 per game, however, are aware of the broader importance of the series to the game's financial bottom line. NRL bosses therefore are said to be firmly of the view that the game's best players should feature in Origin, not least of all due to the broadcast revenue it brings in.

with AAP