The Roar
The Roar


Demetriou has 'no doubt' he can turn around Souths after disaster derby sees Latrell binned in Roosters riot

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22nd March, 2024
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The Roosters needed a statement, Souths just needed a win.

In the end, the Chooks got the points and had them underlined with a 48-6 that put the rest of the competition on notice, pushing the 0-3 Bunnies well and truly into crisis.

Front and centre of that is coach Jason Demetriou, who insisted that he is the man to lead South Sydney out of this blip, which sees them bottom of the ladder and with just four wins from their last 16 games.

“It’s disappointing, it hurts,” said the coach.

“It’s probably the lowest point of my career right now but I know how we get out of it. We’ll fight and fight together.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Dominic Young of the Roosters scores a try during the round three NRL match between Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs at Allianz Stadium, on March 22, 2024, in Sydney, Australia.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

“We’ve got to turn it around. I’ve got no doubt that I’m the man who can do that. The only thing that’s going to make a difference is getting our training right, get our performance right and gett some results on the board.”

Souths were battered and remain winless through three games, but that wasn’t the story here. Neither was Latrell Mitchell, sin-binned midway through the second half, or the absence of Lachlan Ilias, who played reserve grade beforehand, or a


This was all about the Chooks. They were great and, if they keep this up, there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t win the Premiership.

James Tedesco was back to his best, scoring twice, while Dom Young and Joey Manu made a case to be the most damaging right edge in the comp. Jack Wighton, on debut, had no answer.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, in Game 300, lead from the front and, in a marked difference from their last outing at Brookvale Oval, everyone else was there too. Brandon Smith has never looked this good in red, white and blue.

Sam Walker, himself dropped a year ago, was exceptional before being forced off with a HIA.

“He was exceptional,” said Trent Robinson of his captain.

“He’s been exceptional for three games. He’s been very clear on his prep and leading from the front in attack and defence.


“It’s positive for Ted and we’ve run off the back of him. It’s really impressive.”

Souths were struggling before this but are now officially in crisis. They’ve had a tough start to the year on the fixture list, but that doesn’t excuse this disintegration.

Losing to your rivals is bad, but losing like this, where they were so obviously second best, shows how far they have fallen. Less than a year ago, they were top of the table. Now, they could be bottom by the end of the round.

Jason Demetriou has the job of his life on lift this team’s confidence. Dropping players won’t help. Neither will shouting at them.

The Roosters pack rally around Jared


The NRL’s obsession with milestones can be a little overblown at times, but when it’s a club like the Roosters, going into a derby against Souths, celebrating a figure as talismanic as Waerea-Hargreaves, it was sure to get the boys fired up.

There was no doubt that Jared would be fired up – when is he not – but what was so impressive was the way that everyone else raised their level beyond the usual to batter South Sydney and deliver the win.

Top of that list was Naufahu Whyte, who seemed inspired by the company around him to charge the ball in and, when the chance came, lay blokes out in defence.

One shot on Latrell Mitchell fired the crowd up no end and, on the stats sheet, he delivered over a third of his metres post-contact, which shows just how effective he was in winning rucks.

At one point, as Alex Johnston raced clear on the outside and kicked in, it was Whyte who was on hand to clean up. Those are the effort areas that coaches love.

Whyte was the new and shiny option, filling the role that was once Terrell May’s, though that isn’t to say he wasn’t also effective.


May did his bit, as did Lindsay Collins, and that the four middle forwards were next to each other in the metres list shows just how much the job was shared.

On the back of that, Brandon Smith had what might have been his best game as a Rooster.

The hooker was at his impish best, nicking the ball, taking early kicks, jumping out of rucks and noising up the Bunnies as much as possible.

The Cheese is all about his confidence off the field, but there were times last year when that seemed to be an act. Today, covered in his own blood, he saw himself on the big screen and laughed.

All of this came on the back of a performance at Manly in which the Roosters were battered in the middle.

Call it the milestone, call it playing for your mate, call it bouncing back after being bullied. Whatever it was, it worked for the Roosters tonight.


Souths’ problem is not their halves

All the narrative going into this one from the Bunnies’ perspective was the demotion of Ilias to reserve grade and the promotion of Dean Hawkins to take his place.

Ilias played NSW Cup before and came out of it with a couple of try assists and try savers in defence as the Bunnies’s second string ran out easy winners, so at least his end of the bargain was kept up.

Hawkins had little opportunity to shine, given Souths’ general problems in ball security that limited how much they were able to put on their attack at all.

Cody Walker, who hasn’t escaped criticism, overplayed his hand at times, but that was almost through trying too hard to make things happen.

But it was the five eighth who created Jacob Host’s try and almost everything good Souths did went down his side. He made five errors, but with a player like Walker, that usually is a byproduct of him trying things, and you don’t want that out of his game.


Tonight wasn’t on Cody. So what was it?

The middle, obviously, was second best. They didn’t stand a chance against a Chooks pack in this mood.

The ball control remains a nightmare and essentially ended any challenge in the first half. It’s all well and good having an attacking style of play, but if you’re dropping it in your own end, you’ll not win many games.

The left edge, featuring Jack Wighton for the first time, was good going one way but ripped apart going the other, and the other barely touched the footy.

If you’re defending South Sydney, you know what play they’re going to set up for and that makes it a lot, lot easier to defend.

Rumours of their demise are probably a little overstated.

This is Round 3 and they’ve already travelled to two of the three most difficult games they will face all year, plus faced a red hot Manly side in Vegas.


It’s all still salvageable. For now. But it has to improve quickly.