Eels pleased for Sandow but move on
Parramatta players say they are happy departed halfback Chris Sandow has been able to sort out a contract and is doing what is best for his future despite the fact it means they will go into a tough Monday night trip to Townsville minus both their first-choice halves.
With five-eighth Corey Norman now sidelined with a knee strain, back-up half Luke Kelly will partner utility Joe Paulo on Monday but players say there is no ill will towards Sandow, who has been released with immediate effect to join Warrington in the UK Super League.
"We wish Chrissy all the best, he's been great here," centre Brad Takairangi told NRL.com.
He said the playing group only found out around the same time it came out in the media that Sandow's four-year stint at the club was coming to an abrupt halt.
"He's very much loved amongst the boys in the group and I think he's going to absolutely going to kill it over there, hopefully he stays injury free and good luck to him," he added.
Winger Ryan Morgan said after four years playing alongside Sandow he was just happy the ex-Rabbitoh was doing something that would make him happy.
"I've known Chrissy for a while now, played with him for four years, I'm just happy with whatever he's happy with," Morgan said.
"At the end of the day you've got to look after your family and I know he'd want the exact same for me.
"He's looking after himself and as long as he's healthy and his family's taken care of, at the end of the day that's all you can ask for.
"He's a class player and we'd have wanted to have him here but he's got to take care of his own and we've got a job to do this weekend. We can't afford to be dwelling on what we lose with him."
Morgan added the playing group had done a good job of shutting out any media attention, including the latest reports of further salary cap issues regarding alleged undisclosed third-party agreements.
"We're just here to play footy. It doesn't really affect us too much, obviously we want the club run as well as possible but we're just here to play," Morgan said.
"It sort of bands all the boys together a bit and if you just stick together and not focus on the outside and just focus on what you can do to win the game, a lot of times you get the result."
Luke Kelly, the man set to benefit most in the short term from Sandow's departure as he looks guaranteed the blue and gold No.7 jersey for the remainder of the season, said he was excited to take the opportunity now presented to him.
"It's exciting. Obviously it's not ideal from the team's point of view [to lose Sandow and Norman in the same week] but it's exciting, it's a big opportunity and hopefully I can grab it and play well," he said.
"It's a big opportunity for myself. It's a very important time for the club. We need to play well as a team, we're still alive in the finals race. Hopefully we can pull some good games together."
Kelly said the situation at the club wasn't as bad as one may sometimes think reading media reports, noting the club had won three straight games prior to last week's loss to Canterbury.
"It not all that bad. You read the papers, you probably start crying!" he quipped.
"That's something we've probably been really good at the last couple of months [shutting out that attention], everyone's come and said once we get here and start training it's all about us, who's in the four walls here and that's all there is to it.
"We're the blokes that train together and go out on the field, we try not to let it affect us and I think we've done a pretty good job."
He added coach Brad Arthur had also been a huge support to the players.
"He's been unreal, he's always been really honest with the playing group, whether it's about our performances, what we're doing well, what we're not doing so well, whether it's about stuff in the papers, he just comes in and tells us like it is and that's all there is to it, he just tells us what's happening and we get out there and train hard. He's been really good for the club and the team and myself in that regard," Kelly said.
Eels forward David Gower also said recent dramas may galvanise the playing group, adding the salary cap issues were no concern of the players.
"It's nothing to do with us – it's above our pay grade basically," Gower said
"Brad and the staff have done a great job of shielding us from that and keeping our focus on footy and training every day. We're pretty lucky here that we've got a good staff here that do that and shield that sort of burden away from us. We just come here – we're paid to train well, we're paid to improve, we're paid to play well on the weekend and that's what we try to do."
Gower added his praise to the way Arthur has handled a tough year.
"The whole playing group knows the sort of bloke that Brad is and we know that he just wants the best for us and he's going to give us every opportunity to perform well and play well and in turn we're going to do our absolute best for him every day at training and in games," Gower said.
"We owe it to ourselves Brad, the staff and our fans to put on a good show week-to-week and we want to go out there and perform well for ourselves and our families as well. What's happening off the field and what's happening in the past is the past. We can't look at it because you forget what's right in front of you and that's right now. For us that's the Cowboys this week."