The fallout to South Sydney’s disastrous season has begun with speculation the club may use Jack Wighton’s arrival to trigger a major shake up of the side.
Jason Demetriou’s side was top of the NRL ladder after 11 rounds only to miss the top eight after losing to bitter rivals the Roosters in Round 27.
It is a decline Fox League’s James Hooper pointed out on Triple M is the “greatest capitulation in the history of the NRL era”.
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And according to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald it could trigger a positional shake-up, with the Rabbitohs said to be considering moving Latrell Mitchell from fullback.
A club official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect his identity, told the Herald that Mitchell’s future at fullback would be asked of coach Demetriou in his end-of-season review.
It comes after NRL great James Graham suggested Wighton could even move into the halves as he makes the switch to South Sydney in 2024.
“Looking and observing South Sydney performances this year, they play with an attitude that they feel they need to score on every play,” he said on Triple M
“They don’t seem to exercise patience or build into a set of six. The completion rates have been horrible. Even against the Roosters there were times when they pushed the pass too much
“They relied on their talent too much. They just approached games with ‘we’ve got this, we will just wait until we need to’. Then they ran out of time.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see a change of position. We might see Wighton be the halves partner to Cody Walker.
“Cody goes to seven. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them at least explore that option.”
Graham was then questioned on what that would mean for incumbent halfback Lachlan Illias.
“What happens to Isaiah Tass who has been sensational,” he responded.
“Good quality first grader who is contracted for next year. He’s too good to be playing reserves.
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“The very fact that he hasn’t gone to a different club, I think they would have said to him we are going to experiment with Jack Wighton, Cody Walker in the halves combination.”
It comes amid strong criticism of Illias from former South Sydney players.
Former Bunnies halfback Craig Field took to Facebook to declare vent his frustrations
“I’ve got to get it off my chest – don’t care what the people at Souths think – but number 7 is not up to what this coach thinks. I was far from a perfect player but @8)(: me,” Field wrote.
Club great Craig Coleman also liked the post.
The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield, however, said the criticism of Illias has been unfair and said higher-profile players needed to be held accountable.
Lachlan Ilias has more work to do on his football Interesting story over the weekend, the legends turning on Lachlan Ilias which I thought was a little bit unfair.
“He’s only on $300k. I think some big-money players didn’t justify their pay packets more so than Lachlan,” Rothfield said on Big Sports Breakfast radio.
“Latrell needs to have a really really strong off-season, Cody needs to play better than what he has.”
Rothfield said Souths needed to move quickly to bolster the coaching ranks ahead of next season.
“Souths, they’ve lost two assistant coaches – Sam Burgess and John Morris,” he said.
“They need to identify two new assistants and two good ones.
“I think Jason Demetriou has shown this year he does need some really good support.”