Natural talent has gotten troubled Eels halfback Chris Sandow pretty far – and pretty rich - in his seven-year NRL career.
But for the first time in his life, he's earned it.
At least that's what Parramatta captain Jarryd Hayne believes, after watching his prodigious teammate work all the way back, first from gambling rehabilitation, then his season start in the NSW Cup.
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Having begun the season with halfback Luke Kelly, Eels coach Brad Arthur recalled Sandow for their Round 4 breakthrough win over Penrith, where he solved Parramatta's goal-kicking woes with four conversions.
But the former Rabbitohs then backed it up with another virtuoso performance against Brisbane last Friday, displaying his signature energy and spark on his way to helping his side snap a two-year away drought.
"You always want to see players play to their potential and play to what they're capable of," Hayne said on Friday.
"We always knew Chrissy has the talent, and it was about him working hard, going away and fixing up a couple of key areas in his game. He's done that, he never dropped his head once, and he's actually worked that extra bit harder than what he's used to. I think it was good for him."
Hayne, who's also no stranger to the NRL spotlight, reckons the 25-year-old has matured quickly under the tutelage of Arthur.
"He's had everything handed to him because of his talent and I think for the first time in his career, he had to work hard," he said.
"It didn't matter how gifted he was, he had to work hard. He's done that, and that's why he's back in the team and he's playing the footy that we know he's capable of."
Parramatta face an early season re-match with the Roosters, who embarrassed the Eels 56-4 in Round 2.
But since then, the Eels have won two of their past three, and that one loss was a controversial last-minute defeat at Brookvale Oval. Hayne identified a new-found confidence as the difference in an inexperienced Eels side that was pummelled a month ago.
"Being a young team, you sort of come in and out of games and not realise the effect that consistency has until you play someone like the Roosters," he said.
"And you play a good first half and then the second half goes out the window. For us it's confidence but we're still young and we're still learning. I think playing the Roosters again we'll really see where we're at and how far we've come."
The only other notable difference was the inclusion of that man – Sandow – and the results are there for all to see.
"Obviously both games he's been back, he's been instrumental. For him it's about being consistent which we know he's capable of," he said.