Bunnies coach bristles at question over young star


South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou was in no mood to be questioned about his halfback after Saturday night’s 32-12 preliminary final loss to Penrith.

The Rabbitohs fell one game short of making the grand final, but queries remain about young playmaker Lachlan Ilias who this year was asked to step into the sizeable shoes of Adam Reynolds.

The Bunnies were up 12-0 with minutes to go before half-time, when suddenly the Panthers scored twice to level the scores at the break.

The second Panthers try came when a spiral pass to Campbell Graham was dropped, and scooped up by Brian To’o who raced away to score, palming off Cody Walker in the process.

Demetriou was later asked whether Ilias should have had the composure to calm things down before half-time, rather than throwing the ball around and ultimately giving up possession, and points.

“Come on mate – I don’t think it’s up to a halfback in his rookie season to own that moment,” Demetriou responded to the journalist.

“Campbell Graham has got to catch that ball, first and foremost. But I’m not going to sit here and put it on a halfback.

“As a team, at 12-0, we probably should have looked for the one-point (field goal) set. And even in the coach’s box there were discussions about going for the try or going for the one point.

“But (if) Campbell catches it (then) we’re not having the conversation, and if we make the tackle we’re not having the conversation.

We’ve still got two blokes there to make the tackle and we don’t make it. So we have opportunities (to stop that).

“I thought Lachie was outstanding again tonight. I’m really proud of his season.

“There’s a few guys in that team who are going to be a lot better for it next season – Lachlan Ilias, Isaiah Tass… some players who have got a taste of first grade this year who are going to be better for it next year.”

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