South Sydney coach Jason Demetriou has praised Lachlan Ilias for his performance in Friday’s win over the Wests Tigers and has responded to a story that suggested the halfback would be dropped after last week’s quiet display.
The young playmaker outshone halves partner Cody Walker, who came up with several errors, with Ilias also producing a few big defensive plays including a gut-busting effort to pounce on a loose ball when the Tigers looked certain to score.
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“I thought ‘Lachy’ was outstanding tonight,” Demetriou said.
“I thought he showed why he’s our seven, and I’m excited about where he can go.”
Filthy Murray dummy leaves Wests in dust | 00:45
Ilias set up two tries in the 32-18 win in Tamworth, with the first coming off a grubber for Keaon Koloamatangi just a week after he failed to kick the ball once in the big loss against Brisbane.
It led to some fairly strong criticism with some sections of the media predicting he would have been dropped for Friday’s game had Latrell Mitchell not been cleared to return from a calf injury.
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When asked on NRL 360 if Ilias was under pressure, The Daily Telegraph’s Dave Riccio said: “As I understand, yes.”
“He didn’t play to his standards last weekend against the Broncos. He didn’t kick the footy, I can’t recall a halfback not kicking the footy in a match,” he added.
“I think the fact they’re playing the Wests Tigers keeps Lachie in the team and also the return of Latrell, just with that confidence boost to take Lachie’s game back to where it should be.
“Latrell is a clear influence and it’s his ability to take pressure off those halves who last week didn’t fire.”
Wests Tigers Press Conference | 05:04
Ilias finished the night with seven kicks for 271 metres and didn’t miss a tackle in defence as he put in solid 80 minutes that should be the benchmark each week for him to complement a team full of stars.
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“You want to point to not kicking a ball, but he’s a young half who is getting used to playing without guys that he’s used to having around him,” Demetriou said.
“I thought the story around him not playing if Latrell wasn’t fit was ridiculous. I think it’s unfounded and untrue, and I don’t think it’s fair on him.
“I’m all for talking about the kicking stats and talking about the things that are actually happening, but to make a story up is pretty disappointing from the media side of things.
“If you want to know if he’s going to play then just ring me and I’ll tell you. If you don’t hear it from me then don’t make it up because it’s not accurate and it’s not fair on the kid.”
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