Souths wary of former teammate Sandow
He remains a man under pressure, but South Sydney players expect former teammate Chris Sandow to bounce back to his best for Parramatta when the two NRL teams clash on Saturday.
Sandow will face his former club for the first time since his big-money move to the Eels at the start of the season and some of those who know him best believe he’ll have a big point to prove at ANZ Stadium.
The 23-year-old playmaker has not enjoyed a happy start to his career at Parramatta Stadium, with his form coming under heavy scrutiny and he was briefly dropped for a stint with feeder club Wentworthville in the NSW Cup.
But after an encouraging performance in the last-placed Eels’ upset win over Cronulla last week, Sandow’s former halves partner John Sutton said the halfback appeared to be hitting his straps.
“He had a great year with us last year and there’s been a bit of pressure on him this year but I think he’s going to be really fired up to play us,” Souths playmaker Sutton said on Wednesday.
“He’s big enough to handle (the pressure) and I think he played really well against the Sharks.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to build on that.
“I think him and (Jarryd Hayne) are getting a bit of a combo going so we’re going to have to be on our toes.”
Rabbitohs veteran Michael Crocker felt some of the criticism directed towards Sandow was unfair, saying he was always going to need time to adjust after the move.
“Being a half, it’s a lot harder to adjust to a new game plan and a new team,” Crocker said.
“He’ll grow in confidence each week and he’ll be excited to play us.
“… There’s a lot of pressure on him there as well but we all know what sort of talent he’s got and he’s not far from his best.”
The Bunnies will be injury-depleted for the clash with Sam Burgess (knee), Eddy Pettybourne (calf) and Matt King (hernia) joining the club’s casualty ward.
Burgess will miss about a month after undergoing knee surgery, continuing a frustrating run of injuries, but Souths coach Michael Maguire denied the big forward’s intense playing style made him injury prone.
“It’s not really an injury from that, it’s just one of those things,” Maguire said.
“After this injury now it should all be sorted out, he should be right, so we’re looking forward to seeing him back on the park soon.”
The coach said Origin stars Greg Inglis and Dave Taylor would be assessed but he expected them to back up against the Eels after playing for Queensland in Game 2 in Sydney on Wednesday night.© AAP 2013