A devastated Jason Demetriou has pledged to learn from the painful lessons experienced by the Rabbitohs during the 2023 season, following their shocking descent, for which he has accepted full responsibility.
Their dreams of reaching the finals fell through amidst a crushing 26-12 defeat by their longstanding rivals, the Roosters on Friday night.
In an unfortunate feat, the Rabbitohs became the first team to miss out on the finals after leading the competition in Round 11, since the top eight system was initiated.
The result, as Demetriou confessed, was a tough pill to swallow, especially considering the promising performance of the team in the earlier part of the year.
He expressed his disappointment highlighting the lack of execution towards the year’s end, despite an exceptional pre-season and a positive first half of the season, stating that they fell apart in seizing opportunities while conceding points.
Demetriou also singled out the State of Origin phase as the turning point of the team’s downward trajectory. He has committed to a thorough review and acknowledged his responsibility as the head coach to navigate the team towards better outcomes.
It was a humbling experience for Demetriou, who addressed the team’s collapse and vowed to deeply introspect the handling of the situation, especially during and after the State of Origin period.
The club has also had its share of off-field controversies, consisting of the dismissal of assistant coach and club icon Sam Burgess and a leaked text from Rod Churchill — the son of Rugby League legend, Clive Churchill — referring to Mitchell as a “cancer” to the club.
Responding to outside criticisms, Demetriou expressed his disappointment, remarking on the tight-knit nature of the club and their commitment to work together. Despite the unpleasant circumstances, he underscored the importance of moving forward.
Agreeing with his coach, Cameron Murray, the captain of Rabbitohs, also marked the outcome as “disappointing.” However, he hopes the team will draw motivation from this disappointment for improved performance in the upcoming season.
Despite difficulty in identifying the exact point of failure, he voiced the intention to remember this painful defeat and use it as a driving force to ensure such a letdown isn’t repeated.