The former South Sydney CEO who guided the Rabbitohs to end a 43-year championship shortage in 2014, Richardson, has shot down talk about the Rabbitohs being in a state of turmoil. This comes ahead of the team playing a pivotal Friday night match against the Roosters at Accor Stadium.
Head coach, Demetriou, is facing intense scrutiny to guide a shaky Souths to the post-season playoffs. This follows a tumultuous week that saw assistant coach Sam Burgess step down amid swirling rumours that Mitchell and Walker are controlling affairs at Redfern.
After a promising start to the season in which they sat equal first after 11 rounds, Souths have suffered a nosedive in form, losing eight out of their last twelve games and dropping to eighth in the rankings. Their playoff dreams will be over if they yield to the Roosters in their fierce rivalry game at Bondi.
Responding to claims that Demetriou has lost control of the players, Richardson, who was instrumental in securing super coach Wayne Bennett and his protégé Demetriou for the Rabbitohs, discarded these suggestions ahead of the Roosters matchup.
“A notion that the club is in disarray is simply not true.
“Let’s be clear, the control of the football department is not up for debate.
“Everyone was praising Jason when Souths were topping the leader board halfway through the season, now he’s subject to unwarranted attacks from critics.
“I believe JD is our future. He’s put in the hard graft, he’s served his time.
“He’s got a chance at the helm now, and I have absolutely no doubt about Jason Demetriou’s capabilities.
“I’ve never been more assured about any coach, and I’ve dealt with plenty.
“He has not lost the dressing room. The players are very fond of him. Cam Murray wouldn’t have signed a contract extension if it weren’t for JD being well-liked by the squad. Every team goes through some rough patches, we’ve had ours, but JD is the coach who will steer us to our next championship win.
Richardson, who has a lengthy association with Burgess dating back to the latter’s influential role in the 2014 victory, dismissed suggestions of Demetriou losing an internal battle for power with Indigenous influencers Mitchell and Walker.
“It’s total nonsense,” Richardson declared bluntly.
“I regard the supposed issues with Latrell and Cody as a tempest in a teapot. They love the club, have a positive relationship with the coach, and represent what the club aims to achieve moving forward.
“Cody and Latrell do not wield control over the club, no more than Greg Inglis did.
“I am utterly convinced JD oversees the football department. Blake Solly, as the CEO, is in firm control, succeeding me in the role and arguably doing better than I did.
Burgess will serve as coach for the English club Warrington in the upcoming season and Richardson believes time will mend what might be broken.
Managing personalities is crucial in this game.
“Wayne Bennett was exceptional at this as a coach and JD has the same skillset.
“A lot of people talking about what’s going wrong at South Sydney have no clue about the actual happenings.
“I do know what’s happening. I’m in regular contact with Jason Demetriou, he’s a dedicated coach who, for the first time in his career, is experiencing a bit of a rough patch. This will be beneficial for him. It’s crucial to experience these rocky periods in order to become a better coach.
“Johnny Lang wisely once said to me: only when you start losing and have to claw your way back, do you truly become a good coach.
“And Jason Demetriou will certainly fight his way out of this current predicament,” Richardson affirmed.