Cameron Murray’s press conference answer to Latrell Mitchell is everything wrong at South Sydney

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One criticism of Souths this season has been their abject lack of speed.

Except when it comes to running away from tough conversations, then they’ve shown more toe than Nathan Merritt.

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Whether deflecting blame, dodging discord, or forcing Jack Wighton to face their music, one feature of the Rabbitohs’ annus horribilis has been obvious:

The club is in a leadership crisis so festy you can smell it from the moon.

Blundering from one fiasco to the next like low-vibrational sloths, every issue dogging the Rabbits can be traced back to a lack of strong direction.

That’s because anyone with the ability to lead – or who should be leading – is either sacked, about to be sacked, or hiding behind mahogany like nan’s Christmas crockery.

Whether cutting adrift Adam Reynolds, axing Sam Burgess for speaking out, dumping Lachlan Ilias on the advice of dissident teammates or dropping Damien Cook because his name came up on the dartboard, the issues are obvious to everyone except an administration in denial.

And with the club reportedly tapping up Mal Meninga to replace a coach they haven’t sacked yet, the dramas Russell Crowe is filming elsewhere are about to be further outshone by those being created by his asset at home.

And the most concerning aspect?

South Sydney’s culture of sticking its head in the ground has infected the one man at the club who should be holding his head high above the sand.

Cam Murray is a warhorse with the cardio of a drover’s dog and the tenacity to match, but his captaincy has been left severely wanting throughout Souths’ nightmare year.

This is nothing to do with his effort, skill or looks, just his inability to deliver a spray that leaves everyone in the sheds with a nosebleed.

Murray’s reticence was exposed last weekend following Latrell Mitchell’s bevy of brain explosions when asked whether he would “chat to him as captain” about “crossing the line” against the Warriors.

“Do you chat to him as the leader of this team?” Murray was asked.

You can watch the press conference moment in the video at the top of the page

“Latrell’s got good self-reflection, he normally knows what he needs to change before anyone tells him,” Murray gently replied.

“It’s pretty fresh after the game right now but (talking to him is) something to think about across the weekend.”

At a time when Mitchell needed a decisive wake up call after his antics cost the team, it was a response from Murray that would’ve barely blown a pea off a lamb chop.

Even acknowledging the modern way of cocooning such issues within the four walls, it was also a missed opportunity to send a message to fans that there’s at least one bloke at the club who won’t tolerate the fullback’s mindless capers.

This sentiment was echoed on Triple M’s Sunday Sin Bin, with Ben Dobbin conceding “I don’t think that conversation (with Latrell) is going to happen”- and it’s hard to disagree.

Yes, Souths have 99 problems but a quip ain’t one. As such, it would be nonsense to find fault in something as trivial as a quote – but we will.

Footy is a simple game. Just make your tackles, tuck it up the jumper, and when things go awry, scream at the team in the sheds until the walls melt.

Sadly for Murray, for all his abundant qualities, he’s too nice to be a wartime leader.

He carries the ball 25 times a set and makes twice as many tackles, and is the only bloke alongside the kid running out the kick-off tee who’s earned his keep this year.

But while vague and unquantifiable to appraise, his captaincy is not ‘captainy’ enough.

Yes, Murray leads with his actions, but this is a time when actions don’t speak louder than words, unless the action is cupping your hands around your mouth to ram home some truths.

Right now, Souths don’t need a leader with impeccable values and a low error count, they need one with anger issues.

In fact, they only need to hark back through its history for examples of the hairy-chested leadership needed.

Latrell in hot water over elbow "fend"

John Sattler exuded had a statesmanly charisma, Burgess had fear factor and John Sutton had the Bra Boys.

Murray though?

He’s clean-cut, clean-skinned and in bed by 8pm, a decaffeinated leadership style perfect if seeking preselection, but not when the chips are down.

And with Demetriou about to bite the dust, Souths need for a demonstrative skipper will only intensify as the head office continues leaking whispers and hot air.

– Dane Eldridge is a warped cynic yearning for the glory days of rugby league, a time when the sponges were magic and the Mondays were mad. He’s never strapped on a boot in his life, and as such, should be taken with a grain of salt.

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