South Sydney supporters have turned on their own, with torrents of abuse being levelled at young gun Jaxson Paulo after he had a night to forget in the Rabbitohs’ 26-22 loss to Penrith on Thursday night.
The winger was unable to finish off two regulation tries and committed five errors in the loss which ensured the Panthers will finish the regular season as NRL minor premiers.
Fans savaged the 22-year-old, blaming him for the loss and squaring him up with vile abuse.
That resulted in Paulo changing his Instagram account to private and South Sydney shutting down comments on their official match thread on Facebook.
‘Full Time. We’ve now turned off the comments, we’re all in this together,’ the post read.
While most of the comments were moderated and removed from social media, many still remain.
‘This is NRL football … not a counselling session. Paulo is complete and utter s*** and played like a pony. He lost us the game – simple as that. The sooner the fans stop wrapping players in cotton wool the better,’ one furious supporter posted.
‘Paulo is paid good money to play football. He was crap he needs to go. That should be his last game at Souths,’ said another.
‘I never want to see Jackson play for us again ducking hopeless lost us the game still proud of the effort from the team but Jackson [sic] has to go,’ posted another.
Former NRL player Keith Galloway slammed the abuse aimed at the Souths back, pointing out the hypocrisy of calling for better mental health support after the tragic death of Paul Green, then attacking players who have a bad game.
‘Last week everyone was preaching mental health, this week people are attacking Jaxson Paulo online, I hope the poor kid doesn’t read social media. It’s only a game of football,’ he said.
After the loss, Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou indicated that Paulo could face the axe for his performance.
‘We’ll sit down and have a conversation,’ Demetriou said.
‘Against the best teams that’s the level that you’ve got to get to. As a young bloke you understand every error has an impact on the game.
‘I still think we should have defended better, Liam Martin scores a barge-over to win the game — that’s a tackle we’ve got to make, and we don’t make it.’
The Fox Sports commentators were quick to point out Paulo’s errors as well.
‘The shake of the head, Jaxson Paulo did not commit enough to this one,’ Andrew Voss said after Paulo bombed his first try.
‘He had the lottery, he had the winning ticket, it blew away in the breeze, what happened,’ Voss said.
‘Jaxson Paulo, that is his second chance tonight,’ he added when Paul bombed his second.
‘It was bobbling, he was given a chance, then he spilt his lollies,’ Fox League’s Michael Ennis said.
Souths fans were quick to rally around their embattled winger on Friday.
‘How about you leave the kid alone. Do you think he deliberately set out to have a bad game. He would be feeling crap enough without our so called fans attacking him. When did we become a club that insults our players?’ asked one supporter.
‘I am sick of them bagging of players, yes he had a bad game but no need to crucify the young fellow,’ said another.
‘Please stop these pointed remarks towards players accidental errors. Stop and think what mental buttons you may press by picking out or ridiculing any unintended mistakes an individual might make,’ another fan posted.
Penrith supporters also showed empathy toward Paulo and called for NRL fans to leave the young winger alone.
‘Noted that the South Sydney page has now turned off comments for last nights game. Given what I observed last night at Accor stadium, and how some of the supporters were about to have an aneurysm screaming and abusing both team players [and supporters] I am not surprised. Passion is good, I applaud it, but no need to be feral animals either,’ a Panthers fan posted.
‘Some of the things I have seen written about Jaxson Paulo are disgusting and they should turn off their comments,’ said another
‘Your [sic] not wrong I was reading it last night and this morning savage,’ posted another.