New Rabbitohs coach makes mass changes

Ben Hornby is the interim coach at South Sydney. Credit: NRL Images.
Ben Hornby is the interim coach at South Sydney. Credit: NRL Images.

Interim South Sydney coach Ben Hornby has been asked to deliver “improvement” not a finals berth and has dived straight in making changes to the team picked by sacked coach Jason Demetriou.

Amid the fallout from Tuesday’s sensational axing of Demetriou with two years left to run on his contract, and the club confirming its pursuit of a very interested Wayne Bennett, Hornby takes the reins for Thursday night’s clash with reigning premiers Penrith.

While the Panthers will be without star halfback Nathan Cleary, an assist in the Rabbitohs hopes for a win, Hornby threw the magnets around himself

He ditched Jacob Gagai with Isaiah Tass taking his spot on the wing, while moving Michael Chee Kam into the centres.

Jai Arrow will also start at prop with Keaon Koloamatangi returning to the second row and Sean Keppie coming onto the bench.

Souths CEO Blake Solly said a late season run to make the top-eight would be nice, but Hornby’s aims for the remainder of the season were simpler.

“There’s two or three really clear expectations for Ben,” Solly said.

“We want to see improvement in terms of results and performances on the field.

Ben Hornby has made immediate changes. Credit: NRL Images.
Ben Hornby has made immediate changes. Credit: NRL Images.

“We want to give Ben and the coaching staff the time to develop some of our younger players who we’re starting to see come through.

“Hopefully guys like Jye (Gray), Tyrone (Munro) when he comes back from injury, and Peter (Mamouzelos) can play a lot more NRL football this year.

“We want Ben and the coaching staff and the players to hold themselves and carry themselves in a way that represents our club in the best possible way.

It’s the 1st time in the NRL era n interim coach has been but only three of those caretakers have led their side to the finals.

“We certainly think we can make something of the season, whether or not it results in a top-eight berth, I’m not sure,” Solly said.

“But I know the character of this team, I know what they’re like and they’ll be up for the challenge.

“If we can get our players back on the field sooner rather than later, I think most teams will be concerned about playing us.

“If we can get to the top eight, that’d be wonderful, but really it’s about improvement over the next few weeks.”


Cameron Ciraldo - Penrith (6th place, 2018)

Rick Stone - Newcastle (7th place, 2009)

Jason Taylor - Parramatta (8th place, 2006)