Bennett has given the plan his blessing, believing Demetriou is ready to take charge of an NRL club. The 44-year-old was part of the Cowboys brains trust when the club beat Bennett’s Broncos in the 2015 grand final and the pair have subsequently worked together.
After a season on the St George Illawarra coaching staff, Demetriou joined Bennett at Brisbane and then followed him to South Sydney last year.
A former professional rugby league player in England, Demtriou has enjoyed success wherever he has gone as a coach. He helped English side Keighley Cougars earn promotion, coached the premiership-winning Illawarra Cutters and Northern Pride teams and has now become Bennett’s right-hand man. He took control of the Rabbitohs during their Nines campaign and also plays a hands-on role with the team throughout the season proper.
Demetriou was shortlisted to replace Bennett in Brisbane alongside Kevin Walters, Michael Maguire and Anthony Seibold, with the latter ultimately getting the nod. There is no love lost between Demetriou and former Rabbitohs coach Seibold, with the pair engaging in a war of words prior to a clash between the teams last August.
While he won’t be coaching South Sydney beyond next year, Bennett’s next move is unclear. The 70-year-old could take up a head of football role at Souths or another club or even further add to his incredible coaching tally, which stands at 836 NRL games.
The former Australian and England coach is also an obvious target if a second Brisbane franchise is given an NRL license ahead of the next broadcasting deal. The former Broncos, Knights, Raiders and Dragons coach has already set a slew of records unlikely to be surpassed and may decide to end his illustrious career once his Souths deal expires.
Demetriou’s ascension to the top job is just one of the intriguing power shifts at South Sydney. The Rabbitohs board reportedly discussed the prospect of parting company with general manager Shane Richardson, only for co-owner Russell Crowe to step in and save his position.
Regardless of the backroom power plays, Demetriou should have a strong squad at his disposal once he becomes head coach. Jai Arrow will join the Rabbitohs from next year, superstars Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Murray should be in their prime and teenage fullback Joseph Suaalii – considered one of the best prospects of his generation – will be ready to contend for a first-grade spot.