Sat, Aug 24, 2:01pm by Kevin Pitstock
The Parramatta Eels have announced their troubled half-back, Chris Sandow, recently entered rehab for gambling addiction. The 24-year old player will enter the Northern Beaches clinic as early as next week.
Northern Beaches is the same rehab facility which Canterbury’s Ben Barba and Wallabies full-back Kurtley Beale each entered in recent months, in each case successfully returning to their sport. Parramatta previously had stated it would send Sandow to a healing farm near Port Macquarie, but officials stated the rehab clinic was a better option due to its proximity to Sydney.
Eels Chairman Steve Sharp said the club hopes the $500,000-a-year-Sandow gets the help he need. Mr Sharp was optimistic this was a turning point for Sandow. Sharp said last Thursday, “From a personal point of view I thought it was long overdue that we needed to step in and take some action with Chris.”
“He’s a lovely young bloke, he’s got a family,” said Mr Sharp. “I was concerned what was happening behind the scenes off the field is not good for him and his family. It’s not good for us because he’s not performing as we’d like him to. I think in the next week or so he’ll go off to a place where he can get help and hopefully he’ll come back and possibly play towards the end of the season.”
The Eels chairman was non-committal on when fans could expect a return from Mr Sandow, but it’s been released that he won’t be back to his struggling team this season. Instead, he spoke about the positive signs he’d seen during this personal crisis. “Everybody tells you that when you’ve got those sort of problems the first step is accepting it, accepting help. So if you accept that help and Chrissy does then I’m sure he’ll go a long way to coming through this and we all know what player he could be if he gets back to his best form.”
When asked whether the NRL would get involved in the case, Steve Sharp said the NRL front office considered the Sandow matter a club issue at the moment. Mr Sharp went on to say the Eels had informed the NRL Integrity and Welfare Unit about Chris Sandow’s conduct several months ago and the league office considered the matter to be something the club itself should handle.
Prior to his stint in rehab, Chris Sandow had been dropped to NSW Cup for the second straight year. Last year, Sandow’s time spent in NSW Cup reportedly because he was touted as overweight and unfit.
When he burst on the scene in 2008, Chris Sandow won several awards, including the 2008 Dally M Award Rookie of the Year Award and the George Green Medal for the Indigenous Rising Star of 2008. In his first two matches, Sandow kicked game-winning field goals. The second of these featured Sandow leading the South Sydney Rabbitohs to a victory over the North Queensland Cowboys that remains the second largest comeback victory in the history of the National Rugby League.
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