South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou is not backing away from his call for a life ban on the 15-year-old boy who racially abused Latrell Mitchell, arguing educational programs alone are not the solution to the problem. Demetriou was strong and passionate in his condemnation of the incident immediately after Thursday's night clash with Penrith, calling on the game's bosses to remove the offender for life.
The teenager called Mitchell 'a black dog' as the star fullback left BlueBet Stadium at half-time, with the NRL launching an immediate investigation.
"The NRL and clubs have got to get rid of it. Life bans. Anyone who wants to make racial abuse, get them out of the game," the Souths coach said after the match. "We don't want their support. It has got to end."
Asked if he still felt the same way three days on from the incident, Demetriou told the Big Sports Breakfast Weekend radio show on Sunday: "I haven't wavered from that really. I was pretty honest in what I thought."
Demetriou was then asked if a life ban was too harsh given the perpetrator's age. "I think that's for the powers to be to decide," he said.
"Whether it's a life ban or not, I think there has to be some kind of consequence toward what happened and some education. But at the same time, we've been educating people and kids through schools. We're talking about something that we've been educating on since I was a kid (and) I'm 47 years old.
"What are we educating them on? It's an easy throwaway line to say we need to educate people, but what are we talking about? It’s time for us non-Indigenous people to stand up and say we want to see some action against these types of offences. We all walk around saying we're not racist but it’s there and it’s time to admit that it exists."
South Sydney appreciative of vocal Roosters support for Latrell Mitchell
Demetriou revealed Mitchell, who has spent the last few days on his farm at Taree, is in a good headspace despite all the drama.
"He's fine. He's really appreciative (of the support he's received)," he said. "The NRL world rallies around in this situation and the support he's got from fans across the game – not just South Sydney – is great.
"The NRL does a fantastic job in celebrating our Indigenous people and it's a good platform for us to start having a voice."
The Souths boss was particularly appreciative of the backing Mitchell received from Roosters coach Trent Robinson ahead of their clash at Allianz Stadium on Friday night. There are fears Mitchell could again be targeted but Demetriou believes it will be the complete opposite.
He said: "Latrell is well liked there so I don’t see this being an issue at all. I think it will actually be a celebration of what the game's stood for this week."
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