The Parramatta Eels are a victim of their own desperation as they today announced the signing of rugby league’s playing equivalent to a yo-yo in South Sydney Rabbitohs playmaker Chris Sandow.
Its been panic stations in the recruiting department for a long time at the Eels and it seems they’ve finally cracked by forking out $550,000 a year for the diminutive pivot.
“We’re very disappointed to learn of Chris’ decision but we wish him the best for the future,” said South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson.
Parramatta’s seemingly drunken recruitment drive at the end of last year saw them blindly stumble into the rugby league junkyard and pick up Carl Webb, Chris Walker, Reni Maitua and Paul Whatuira.
New Head coach Stephen Kearney saw these signings as an opportunity to strengthen the club’s depth and perhaps give Kearney what he so desperately needs as a coach, structure.
In a perfect World these men would simply have had the job of playing second fiddle to Jarryd Hayne as he blazed away from full-back. But this is not a perfect World.
Kearney’s focused, calm and relaxed personality does not mirror the club’s behaviour on the player market. In a letter to Eels members earlier this year, Kearney wrote:
“Without going into intricate detail, the first part of our plan is already under way and it involves a more structured and specific approach to recruitment and retention of players and staff.”
Since then the Eels have attempted and failed to sign Adam Blair (Backrower), Cooper Cronk (Half-back), Tom Symonds (Utility), Matt Duffie (Winger), Quade Cooper (Rugby Union), Shaun Kenny-Dowall (Centre), Issac Luke (Hooker) and Kyle Stanley (Utility back).
It seems the only specific thing Kearney has done so far is be unspecific.
Newly appointed recruitment officer Peter Nolan knew when he took the job that he needed big name signings almost immediately or feel the wrath of Eels supporters who are sick and tired of losing prospects and signing players passed their prime.
Now as expected the Parramatta Eels languish at the wrong end of the Telstra Premiership table and in dire need of a top line half-back. A half-back that takes the pressure away from Hayne and Daniel Mortimer and can control a game from the middle of the field allowing the Eels game breakers a chance to do something.
The desperation seeps. Enter Chris Sandow.
Sandow’s contract couldn’t have come up at a better time with the Eels on their hands and knees begging the rugby league God’s for a solution at number seven.
Is Sandow the right fit for the Parramatta Eels? Probably not.
Time and time again he has failed to fire at the Rabbitohs but somehow continually remained out of the limelight. Sandow has played 68 games for Souths and is yet to lead them to a Finals game. Surely some responsibility must fall on his shoulders.
But Sandow has something Parramatta’s Jeff Robson hasn’t. Potential. Right or wrong, only time will tell if the money the Eels spent was worth it.