Wade Graham takes swipe at NRL strugglers Souths over detail in Jason Demetriou sacking

Souths finally ended weeks of speculation by showing Demetriou the door on Tuesday night.

Former Cronulla star Wade Graham has hit out at NRL strugglers Souths over the way the Rabbitohs have gone about the sacking of coach Jason Demetriou. The club finally ended weeks of speculation about Demetriou's future after sacking the coach on Tuesday night, effective immediately, citing a "less-than-satisfactory series of results" over the past two seasons.

Demetriou took the Rabbitohs to a preliminary final in 2022 - one year after they lost to Penrith in the 2021 grand final. The Bunnies were also top the ladder after 12 rounds last year but suffered a historic capitulation to miss out on the finals and have won just five games in 21 since that point.

From right to left, former NRL star Wade Graham and Jason Demetriou.
Former NRL star Wade Graham has criticised the way Souths have handled the sacking of coach Jason Demetriou. Pic: Getty/Fox League

The Rabbitohs are currently bottom of the ladder after just one win in six games and were smashed 54-20 by the Melbourne Storm on Anzac Day, ramping up the pressure even further on Demetriou. The club's board met twice on Tuesday to determine the coach's fate, before reports eventually emerged in the evening that he'd been let go.

Veteran league reporter Phil Rothfield reported the news on NRL 360 on Tuesday night after saying he'd received a text from someone at the board meeting, before Rabbitohs officials had confirmed Demetriou's exit. And former Sharks and Origin forward Graham - who was appearing as a guest on Tuesday night's show - savaged Souths for not announcing the news first themselves and for the way they'd treated the former coach.

“It seems like it has been coming for a while and for Jason’s wellbeing and his future it is good that it has happened,” Graham said. “(But) It annoys me as someone who loved my club so much. As a player all I wanted to do was put the club first and make it a better place.

“For him (Rothfield) to say that Souths haven’t released it and he has got a text message from someone in the room. Like that is the top people at their club. They are in a board meeting and someone has texted a journalist to report before it is even released. Maybe it is not just Jason who is the issue. Maybe there is deeper issues at that club.”

NRL 360 co-host James Graham said it seemed obvious weeks ago that Demetriou would be sacked and suggested his position had become untenable before Tuesday night's announcement. “I guess we kind of expected this to happen. It was a matter of when today,” James Graham said.

On the left is former Souths coach Jason Demetriou.
Jason Demetriou was sacked by the Rabbitohs on Tuesday night after a run of poor form in the NRL. Pic: Getty

“I don’t think anyone in the NRL community would have been surprised or chocked by this. I feel for Jason Demetriou. I really do. I played against him in the Super League. I really like what he has done in terms of his journey, but unfortunately for a number of reasons, it became untenable.”


Assistant coach Ben Hornby is set to take charge of Thursday night's clash against reigning premiers Penrith and will remain as interim coach for the rest of the season. "The board and management feel that now is the time to make a change to the leadership of our football program in terms of the head coaching role," Souths chief executive Blake Solly said on Tuesday night. There is no doubting Jason's work ethic or his drive for success, but unfortunately that success has not been forthcoming over the past 12 months."

South Sydney's former coach Wayne Bennett has emerged as the frontrunner to take over the head coaching role in 2025. The Dolphins coach - Demetriou's former mentor at the Rabbitohs - is set to leave the Redcliffe outfit at the end of this season. But Bennett - who led the Rabbitohs to the 2021 grand final - has refused to speculate about his coaching future beyond 2024.

Solly is set to front the media on Wednesday morning, where he will be asked whether Bennett and whether the master coach is a realistic option for the club. Other possible coaching candidates for Souths beyond 2024 include England coach Steve McNamara, interim coach Hornby and recently-appointed assistant David Furner.

with AAP

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