It is not very often you hear Peter Sterling give his opinion on anything that happens at the Parramatta Eels. There is a good reason for that. Peter Sterling knows that his opinions hold so much weight with the Eels supporter base that he can make or break the club based on a few simple sentences.
That is why the latest opinion he has air in regards to the Parramatta Eels is so interesting…
The Daily Telegraph has quoted Peter Sterling as saying that he believes the club should release halfback Chris Sandow. Sterling believes it would be the best thing for the Eels, and for Sandow himself, if both sides parted ways and were able to move forward.
“I think it would be mutually beneficial if Chris Sandow pursued his career elsewhere.” said Sterling.
“The writing is on the wall really that he is going to struggle to play first grade again at Parramatta.”
2013 was obviously a very difficult year for Chris Sandow and the Parramatta Eels. With the club having won the wooden spoon in 2012, Sandow was brought in on a big contract and found himself in a difficult situation for any player to face.
Ricky Stuart was new at the club, there were a number of off field issues at the Eels at board level, the team on the field was playing terribly and Sandow Himself was battling off field issues of his own that have been well documented and that I won’t repeat here.
It all culminated in the a Eels basically telling Sandow to go away and get himself sorted out. Their season was over very early and to their credit I think they made the right call. A compassionate call for a player reported to be earning well over half a million dollars a season.
By all accounts, Sandow is now doing well. You just have to look at him to see is is applying himself much better to his football and to training. In round one Sandow was unable to crack it for a start for the Eels, but I think most people would expect him to play first grade at some point this season.
Sterling obviously thinks that won’t be the case, which is fair enough. He mentioned the rumours doing the rounds that the Brisbane Broncos were interested in signing Sandow, but Broncos coach Anthony Griffin shot those rumours down over the weekend.
This all leaves Sandow and the Eels in a tough situation. Supporters of the Eels will latch onto Sterlings comments and will hope the club does release Sandow. The problem is that even if the release Sandow to another club, they are likely going to be forced to paid a large part of his salary to make the move happen.
Chris Sandow might end up playing for another club, but the Eels will be forced to carry part of his salary on their salary cap figure.
There is no way that Sandow would turn his back on the money the Eels have agreed to pay him over the course of his contract for nothing. That is fair enough too. They made the offer to Sandow and will have to honour their agreement.
However if Chris Sandow now finds that Eels fans will turn against him, and he also finds that he can not break into the Eels first grade team, does he just take the money and play for the next few years in reserve grade?
I have no doubt that Chris Sandow is a talented footballer. I’ve seen him win games all on his own while a member of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. I also have no doubt that there are a few teams out there that could do far worse than playing Sandow in the halves ahead of a few of the very average players that some teams named at halfback on the weekend.
What ever the case, all of this is likely to gather momentum now that Peter Sterling has had his say. That is a burden that Sterling no doubt carries when ever he decides to share his opinion on what happens at the Parramatta Eels.
I would like to see Sandow playing at a club that gives him the best opportunity to play first grade football. At the Eels, he has a good shot at that. There are probably a few other clubs at there though where he would have a better shot at at least showing off what he can do on an NRL field as he looks to rebuild his career.
If that happens, and the Eels can find a new home for Chris Sandow, they will continue to have to pay him though. While some Eels fans may not agree with paying Sandow to play first grade for their clubs, they might find it worse to be paying him to play somewhere else.