Storm respond to Craig Bellamy rumour as Wayne Bennett tipped to replace Jason Demetriou

Wayne Bennett is firming as Souths' likely long-term coach as the Bunnies prepare to cut ties with Jason Demetriou.

South Sydney are preparing for life after Jason Demetriou and are eyeing up two of the greatest coaches to ever grace the NRL as his potential replacement. We may only be five rounds into the 2024 season but it already appears that Demetriou is on borrowed time.

The Rabbitohs hierarchy spent Sunday finalising the next steps as they prepare to cut ties with the coach that took them to the 2022 preliminary final. Demetriou is expected to be let go following this weekend's match against Cronulla. The club are preparing to appoint an interim coach for the remainder of 2024, with their sights set on either Craig Bellamy or Wayne Bennett to take over in 2025.

Pictured L-R: Jason Demetriou, Wayne Bennett and Craig Bellamy
Wayne Bennett is firming as the likely long-term replacement for Jason Demetriou at Souths. Image: Getty

Since 2003, Bellamy has been at the helm of the Storm and each year questions are raised about if he will continue as Melbourne coach. Currently, his future beyond this year is unclear, with Bellamy rumoured to be considering taking up a director of coaching role at Melbourne or even retiring completely at the end of 2024.

Souths are understood to be considering Bellamy as a potential coaching option but Melbourne chair Matt Tripp says they are barking up the wrong tree. "Good luck," Tripp told The Daily Telegraph. "I can't begrudge them because I would want the best coach if I was in their position. I feel for them but it doesn’t mean we're going to give him up.

"They can do what they like. We can’t stop them. To my mind, he has a contract and knowing Craig the way I know Craig, he will honour that contract. I hope he keeps coaching (in Melbourne)."

Sam Burgess viewed as ideal long-term Souths candidate

So with Bellamy unlikely to be swayed to make a switch to Sydney, fans have begun calling for Souths legend Sam Burgess to return to the club. Burgess left his role as assistant coach at the Rabbitohs last year after it was claimed that he was undermining Demetriou.

Burgess fell out with the Rabbitohs' hierarchy after he questioned the club's training standards. He claimed stars Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker were given preferential treatment by the club's coaches before he left.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 13: Sam Burgess speaks to Rabbitohs head coach Jason Demetriou during a South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL training session at Redfern Oval on March 13, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Sam Burgess left his role as assistant coach at the Rabbitohs last year after it was claimed that he was undermining Jason Demetriou.

Since then, Burgess signed a deal to coach Warrington in the English Super League in what is his first job as a professional head coach. The Englishman hasn't taken long to find his feet, with the Wolves currently sitting second on the ladder but he recently said he has no desire to leave the club any time soon. While he may be a potential option in the coming years to take over the side, Souths view Bennett as the most attainable of the three for 2025.


Souths likely to seek out experienced hands of Wayne Bennett

South Sydney are a mess and it appears that they need an experienced hand to come in and manage the breakdown in communication between various personnel at the club. The Dolphins coach will hand over the reins to Kristian Woolfe at the end of the season and is currently seeking his next challenge. Souths are said to be weighing up giving Bennett a three-year-deal to return to the club are are currently working to find someone to take over in the short term.

Bennett put his hand up for the New Zealand coaching job when it was vacated by Michael Maguire but he was pipped by Stacey Jones. The Dolphins coach has also been linked with a potential job as sporting director with the Eels, in a similar role to that of Phil Gould at the Bulldogs.