KIERSTEN DUKE: Hiring Wayne Bennett is only silver lining of Demetriou debacle and Hynes should play for NSW

Kiersten Duke
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Is the worst of it over for Souths? Unlikely.
Is the worst of it over for Souths? Unlikely. Credit: Getty Images

The last 24 hours have been a rollercoaster as a Souths fan with head coach Jason Demetriou’s fate finally decided on Tuesday night.

The powerhouses at South Sydney came together at Heffron Park on Tuesday morning for a meeting to decide the future of the club, but unable to come to a conclusion, elected to host a second meeting in the afternoon resulting in Demetriou’s immediate sacking.

South Sydney are having their worst season in years as they sit bottom of the ladder, having won just a single.

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This time last year the team were sitting pretty in fourth before taking top spot in Round 11. They’ve been slipping down the ladder ever since.

Since losing 52- 20 to the Storm on Anzac Day, the pressure cooker at Souths had reached boiling point as fans continued to demand answers.

The team might currently be without Latrell Mitchell, Alex Johnston, Campbell Graham and Tevita Tatola but that’s not enough of an excuse for a side still boasting the likes of Cody Walker, Cameron Murray, Jack Wighton and Damien Cook to be playing so badly.

Injuries are out of a coach’s control, so how much of the blame was really on JD’s shoulders?

A difficult decision was no doubt made with Ben Hornby being put in charge effective immediately. He will be supported by the recently hired and very experienced assistant coach David Furner until the end of 2024.

It pains me to sit here and write this wearing my Souths jersey, but it really feels like the clubs’ chances of saving this season are well and truly down the drain. The only saving grace?

That Wayne Bennett is target number one on Souths’ list for 2025.

And while Mitchell does not want to play Origin to help save the fortunes of his club the race for the NSW No.6 jersey is heating up and I don’t think it would be bold of me to declare Nicho Hynes the clear favourite following his terrific start to the season.

The Sharks halfback has led his team to top of the table with a 6-1 record after eight rounds.

Still the question must be asked, the Sharks may be flying at the minute but are they the real deal?

They’ve had a relatively soft draw to kick off the season, with the chief criticism they face being their inability to handle top eight sides in recent years.

The next month will give a real barometer of where Cronulla are really at, as they square off with some NRL heavyweights, starting with the second-placed Storm this week.

Then if they can put in strong showings against the Roosters, three-peat champions Panthers, Eels and last year’s other grand finalists Brisbane, the Sharks will make a powerful statement about their premiership chances.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: Ronaldo Mulitalo of the Sharks celebrates scoring a try with Nicho Hynes of the Sharks during the round four NRL match between Cronulla Sharks and Canberra Raiders at PointsBet Stadium, on March 31, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Nicho Hynes is playing himself right into NSW’s No6 jumper. Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

And speaking of the real deal aren’t the Roosters looking the goods finally?

Anzac Round is always one full of emotion and 2024 was no different. The Roosters, under fire after some sub-par losses to start the season, put on an epic display of comradery and resilience to destroy the Dragons 60-18 in their traditional clash at Allianz Stadium.

Dom Young returned from suspension in a dominant fashion. The winger toyed with the Dragons’ left-edge defence to score a try, run 212 metres and make three-line breaks - all in a days work yeah?

Another Rooster who made the most of the occasion was young halfback Sam Walker who carved up the Dragons in arguably the best game of his career.

Walker scored 24 of the Roosters 60 points, booted 10 goals from 10 attempts, plus scored a try and set up four others.

The masterclass performance could not have come at a better time for the club, coming days before the shock retirement announcement of teammate Luke Keary.

Kiersten Duke is a horse racing presenter for Sky Racing with a passion for NRL, soccer and netball.

Catch her at @kierstenduke


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