Cooper Cronk shoots down Matty Johns' call on Jack Wighton amid NRL dramas at Souths

The Rabbitohs are desperate to bounce back after starting the year with two losses.

Cooper Cronk has highlighted a flaw in Matty Johns' suggestion that Souths should deploy Jack Wighton in the halves alongside Cody Walker. Wighton makes his return from suspension for the Rabbitohs' clash with the Roosters this weekend and will line up at left centre.

But many have called for the Canberra recruit to play in the halves. Coach Jason Demetriou has axed halfback Lachlan Ilias after an 0-2 start to the season, picking Dean Hawkins in the No.7 jersey instead.

Cooper Cronk and Matty Johns, pictured here alongside Rabbitohs players before Jack Wighton's arrival.
Cooper Cronk and Matty Johns have clashed over whether Jack Wighton should play in the halves for the Rabbitohs. Image: Getty

Discussing the situation at the Rabbitohs on Tuesday night, Johns made the bold call that Wighton should be playing in the halves alongside Walker to sparked the team's running game more. “When I say they need a change of system, the reason that I might have gone is to push Jack into 6 and Cody into 7,” Johns said on the Matty Johns podcast.

“At the moment Souths are very much pass first, pass second, pass third and looking to play around an opposition. I think they need to make a switch and become a little more run-centric.

“The two tries after half time (against the Broncos) were playing through the opposition and I think putting Wighton into the halves would really straighten them up and simplify their game. I just think if they simplify their game and become a little bit more run-first, I know it will reduce their errors which has been a big problem and if you are reducing your errors, it’s putting less pressure on your defence.”

Jack Wighton during a South Sydney Rabbitohs game.
Jack Wighton looks on during a South Sydney game. (Getty Images)

Cooper Cronk quick to point out flaw in Matty Johns' call

But Cronk was quick to shoot down that suggestion, pointing out that Wighton and Walker both traditionally play on the same side of the field. “I understand the theory around Walker and Wighton, but both are left-sided players, one is going to have to play on the right," Cronk said.

"Who is going to be the dominant kicker? There are a few things that come into that for me, but I understand where you are coming from.”


James Graham went one step further and suggested Wighton could be playing in the halves as early as this week, predicting Demetriou could pull a late switch. The former Bulldogs and Dragons forward said Wighton playing in the halves would shore up the Bunnies' defence.

“Watching South Sydney and how they’ve started the season, their issues are defensive," he said on NRL 360. "It’s nothing to do with attack. We know they have points in them.

“Talk of Ilias demanding the football and pulling Latrell and Cody into line, I don’t think that’s the issue. For me, South Sydney conceding too many points (is the issue). For Hawkins to come in, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we’ll see Wighton go into 6 and Walker into 7. That will shape them up stronger defensively because I don’t understand what Hawkins brings defensively.”

As Graham pointed out, the Rabbitohs haven't really struggled to score points so far this season. They went down 36-24 to Manly in Las Vegas, before losing 28-18 to the Broncos in Brisbane. Friday night's clash with arch-rivals the Roosters will also be an away game, but Bunnies fans will be hoping for a change of fortune.