Chris Sandow has proved Parramatta are more than a one-man band this NRL season, stepping into the imposing shoes of Jarryd Hayne to star at fullback in the Eels’ 22-12 win over Canterbury on Sunday.
With Hayne absent on NSW State of Origin duty, Sandow was at his livewire best at the back for the Eels, proving to be a constant problem for the Dogs’ defence with ball in hand, the enigmatic playmaker continuing his dramatic resurgence under new coach Brad Arthur.
Sandow started the year in reserve grade but Arthur has shown he can get the best out of the former South Sydney halfback and the 25-year-old stepped up to the challenge of playing fullback, helping the Eels to a breakthrough win with a hand in two of their five tries.
In 29 previous games without Hayne the blue and golds have won just four times.
“Chrissy did a fair bit of training in the pre-season at fullback, he was very good in attack today, that is what he shows at training,” Arthur said.
“Obviously Chris’ strength is to run the footy, so I thought why not put him at fullback and bring Luke (Kelly) in and him and Corey (Norman) can control the game and Chrissy can run.
“Jarryd is really good for us defensively and at getting the numbers and the tryline defence right but Chrissy’s job was to run the ball.”
Sandow declined to talk to reporters post-game.
Arthur said the win would provide his team with further self belief as they pushed up to equal third on the NRL ladder after 14 rounds with their eighth win of the season, after they enjoyed just five victories under Ricky Stuart in 2013.
But Arthur said that wasn’t necessarily because Hayne was absent.
“That’s great but we haven’t talked about it,” he said.
“I’m not real big on records, we talked about showing more desperation and pride in ourselves and we did that.
“We showed some backbone, we played tough, we showed a lot of desperation.”
Before 24,012 fans at ANZ Stadium, Sandow played the lead role in the first of Vai Toutai’s two tries.
The first, in the 23rd minute, had come after Semi Radradra scored a 90m intercept three minutes earlier.
Sandow was at it again in the 67th minute as Morgan scored the first of his two tries.
Morgan’s runaway 50m effort then sealed the win in the 75th minute, with Dogs winger Corey Thompson also making it a late double with his second in the 78th minute.
Des Hasler’s Dogs didn’t manage as well with their NSW stars, halves Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson, sidelined.
Game-ending first half injuries to David Klemmer (calf) and Sam Perrett (knee) didn’t help their cause.
“We were prepared for certain players playing out of position but then we had a couple of crucial injuries,” Hasler said.
“Losing Sam Perrett meant we had to rejig our whole side.
“But I was pretty pleased with our effort given the circumstances.”
Parramatta also had their injury dramas, Manu Ma’u suffering a suspected fracture arm in the first half.