Why South Sydney hooking NRL rookie Lachlan Ilias was unnecessarily cruel

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Lachlan Ilias was pulled from South Sydney's drubbing at the hands of the Dragons before half time in a move deemed by many to be overly harsh. Picture: Fox Sports
Lachlan Ilias was pulled from South Sydney's drubbing at the hands of the Dragons before half time in a move deemed by many to be overly harsh. Picture: Fox Sports

A few weeks back an NRL cyclone by the name of Siosifa Talakai hit Shark Park, destroying everything in its path.

When they picked through the debris, Manly centre Morgan Harper was found a metre underground with Sifa's stud marks puncturing his torso.

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What made it worse was the Harper humiliation played out before a big Thursday night TV audience on two stations.

You couldn't miss it, just like Talakai couldn’t miss Harper.

But Manly coach Des Hasler did something that night which, in retrospect, saved Harper from long-term damage.

Instead of yanking him off the field midway through the demolition, the Sea Eagles boss waited for the relative calm of a half-time dressing-room to quietly inform the centre his night was over and he best change into his civvies.

Explaining the move NOT to remove Harper in the middle of the maelstrom, Hasler said: "I will need some footy out of him later on."

In other words, Harper remained very much in Hasler's plans but hooking him at the time of the carnage may have caused irreparable damage.

He's been one of their best in recent weeks.

Which brings us to young South Sydney half-back Lachlan Ilias.

His first 29 minutes against St George Illawarra was nowhere near as bad as Harper's nightmare, yet Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou saw fit to bench him as the Bunnies headed to a 32-0 deficit.

The look on the 22-year-old's face, as the camera zoomed on him, was one of utter humiliation.

Demetriou, just like Hasler with Harper, will need some footy out of Ilias later on as well.

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But how does a player, just 15 games into his career, recover from such a public put down?

"It shatters them," the best No.7 of them all – Andrew Johns – told Radio SEN.

"I think up until last night he (Ilias) has been sensational. Every game he's getting better and better.

"But it's impossible for a rookie half-back to do anything when your forwards are getting smashed.

"His forwards were on the back foot. The Dragons just rolled through them.

"Have a look at State of Origin the other night. Nathan (Cleary) couldn't get into the game because Queensland's forwards dominated NSW."

Demetriou's decision to haul Ilias off smacked off an inexperienced coach looking for someone to wear the blame for the wheels falling off.

He can argue Souths performed a lot better in the second half, but was it worth the potential damage done to Ilias's confidence?

We’ll find out in a couple of weeks.

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