Rugby League


Sandow is part of Eels' Sticky situation

Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart has given a strong indication Chris Sandow is part of his long-term plans by declaring one of his goals in rebuilding the Eels is to get the halfback enjoying his football again.

Stuart commenced a three-week training program with the NRL wooden spooners this week and yesterday said he was keen to put a smile on Sandow's face again after the South Sydney recruit's underwhelming first year with the Eels in 2012.

''I want Chris to enjoy his football,'' Stuart said.

''It's a big challenge improving any player whether he's a halfback, front-rower or winger but that's your job as a coach, to be a teacher.''

There has been speculation linking Parramatta with the likes of NSW Origin halves Todd Carney and Mitchell Pearce beyond 2013.

''I'll do everything I can to help Chris and every other player improve on their performance,'' Stuart said.


''He's a big part of the team because he's the halfback … I enjoy coaching halfbacks and enjoy being involved with them. They're all good blokes.''

The former NSW Origin coach and Canberra halfback said he didn't come to the club with any expectations of the current crop of Eels.

''I've just come here to start a rebuilding process and it's something that I think the club needs,'' Stuart said.

''For me, it's a matter of coming back after the break of the players knowing me and me knowing the players.

''The biggest asset for me is getting to know the boys. I want them to leave after this next three weeks wanting to come back.''

Stuart, who won a premiership in his first year as an NRL coach with the Sydney Roosters in 2002, admitted part of his plan for the Eels was to go back to basics.

''We go back to square one. Right from the grass roots of it all in regards to attack and defence,'' he said.

Despite watching the Eels closely in the final five weeks of the competition, Stuart said it was too early to say which players would be shown the door at Parramatta.

''I'm in a position where I'm assessing everything and that's something that I've got to look at. I'm very excited to be here and once I learn more about the players and the squads and the club itself I'll be more excited,'' he said.

''I've only just started. We've had two field sessions together.

''It's not just about first grade, it's about the club. That's one thing that I'll be driving into the players - it's not about the individual, it's not about the team, it's about the whole club.'' AAP