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Sandow still part of Stuart's plans

Ricky Stuart hasn't ruled out the possibility of Chris Sandow returning to the Parramatta side this year as the troubled halfback battles his off-field issues.
Sandow still part of Stuart's plans
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Aug 15 AAP - Ricky Stuart hasn't ruled out the possibility of Chris Sandow returning to the Parramatta side this year as the troubled halfback battles his off-field issues.

Sandow has been given time away from the club to sort out his problems after being dropped to NSW Cup side Wentworthville last month.

The 25-year-old was not considered for selection this week due to a hamstring problem and, with just four games of the season remaining, there was speculation the former South Sydney star would remain on the sidelines.

However, Stuart said the man he once dubbed the 'Aboriginal Alfie', in reference to Queensland great Allan Langer, is still part of his plans.

"Absolutely," he said when asked if Sandow would be considered for selection again this year.

"He's in rehab with the physios at the moment with a hamstring injury.

"I have said all along I am a fan of Chrissy Sandow and I want him getting his game back to where we know he can and I have every confidence in him."

Eels chairman Steve Sharp said the club had a duty to help Sandow overcome his gambling-related issues so he could get his life back on track on and off the field.

"From a personal point of view, I thought it was long overdue that we stepped in and took some action with Chris," Sharp said.

"He's a lovely young bloke ... and what was happening behind the scenes off the field was not good for him, his family or for us.

"He was not performing at the level for us on the park that we would like him to.

"It's all up to Chris and how he responds to the help he gets.

"The first step to solving those problems is accepting help. And if he does, Chrissy will go a long way to coming through it.

"We all know what sort of player he could be if he gets back to his best form."

One player who will not be part of the Eels' future is English prop Gareth Hock who has changed his mind about joining the club next season.

Hock has had something of a chequered history off the field in England where he served a two-year suspension in 2009 after testing positive to cocaine.

His registration is held by Wigan, who've agreed to a transfer fee with the Eels for the fiery back-rower - on loan at Widnes after falling out with his parent club.

However, Hock's partner is due to give birth later this year and opted to remain in the UK, following the lead of Israel Folau and Josh Papalii in changing his mind about joining Parramatta.

"I've known about it for a long time. It's a welfare thing," Stuart said.

"I have spoken to Gareth and I am not going to bring a bloke out from England with a newborn who wants to stay at home. It would be cruel."


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