Preston Campbell has urged NRL strugglers Parramatta to strike a playing-style compromise with frustrated halfback Chris Sandow to get the best return from their expensive off-season signing.
The Eels take on the Canberra Raiders in Canberra on Sunday.
Campbell, who hung up his boots at the end of last season after a 265-game career with Cronulla, Penrith and Gold Coast, said he felt for Sandow with the Eels searching for answers to their disturbing form.
Banishing Sandow to the NSW Premier League or playing him off the bench was not the key to unlocking his natural brilliance, according to Campbell, a Dally M Medal winner as a mercurial halfback early in his career.
Coach Stephen Kearney didn't inject Sandow into the Eels defeat by Canterbury on Friday night until the game was well and truly lost.
''I really want to give Chris a call to see if he is OK,'' Campbell said.
Sandow's much-heralded arrival at Parramatta - applauded by Eels great Peter Sterling before he recently questioned Sandow's fitness - has coincided with the club's worst start to a season in more than half a century.
But Campbell warned the Eels needed to realise some players were free spirits on the football field.
''Some of the things he [Sandow] does … it turns footy players into heroes and then into legends,'' Campbell said. ''Some of the stuff he does, if he did it in Origin or in a Test, he'd be remembered forever.''
He questioned the Eels decision to splash out massive money on a halfback to play structured football when it was obvious Sandow's brilliance and flair in the No. 7 guernsey was what made him such a dangerous player at Souths. AAP