Souths Chris Sandow dodges praise; keeps cool

Chris Sandow South Sydney Rabbitohs Halfback NRL 2008While Bunnies captain Roy Asotasi and coach Jason Taylor have heaped praise on new no.7 Chris Sandow for his efforts in the past 5 weeks, but the South Sydney rookie believes he still has a long way to go before classing himself as a complete  first grade player..

The livewire halfback has yet to be in a losing Souths side, playing in  Souths’ 5 wins on the trot, their longest winning succession in 14 years. Regardless of his own thoughts, Sandow has lived up to comparisons with Allan ‘Alifie’ Langer. While obviously a little green in some areas, Sandow has more than the foundations for an impressive career.

His passing selection and decision making around when to take on the line have been quite good. He initially lacked a strong mid to long kicking game, but this is improving each week. His short kicking game is virtually bulletproof, with a barrage of chips, grubbers and reverse banana kicks to get his side plenty of repeat sets against the Eels last night.

Last night’s 32-20 conquest of Parramatta at ANZ Stadium was centred around 2 upcoming playmakers, Sandow and Parramatta pivot Feleti Mateo.

Sandow had a hand somewhere in 4 of Souths’ 6 touchdowns, while Mateo also played impressively until suffering a medial ligament knee injury shortly after halftime.

He returned to the field for the last quarter after a ten minute break but given he is carrying an ankle injury as well there’s serious concern about his availability over the coming weeks.

Rabbitohs captain Roy Asotasi said Sandow had done “wonders” since coming into first grade, while coach Jason Taylor said the rookie halfback’s kicking game had made “a massive difference to our whole team.”

Sandow, who hadn’t spoken to the media before last night, was quick to down play his part in the Rabbitohs resurgence.

“I’m not a first grader yet, that was my fifth game, I’m just taking each game as it comes,” Sandow told AAP.

“I want to stay there to the end of the year, but I’ve got to perform each week.”

Taylor, Asotasi and Sandow all stressed that Souths weren’t worrying about trying to make the finals, even though their latest win pushed them to within three points of eighth spot.

However, their next three fixtures are all against teams currently outside the top eight.

Slumping Parramatta, who are just two points ahead of Souths after crashing to their third loss in four games, were sweating on scans on Mateo to be performed tomorrow.

Asked if he would be right for Friday, Mateo said: “You can never tell, sometimes they say if you don’t feel anything it’s worse, so I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see,” Mateo said.

Parramatta hope to have captain Nathan Cayless back from an infected shin, but acting skipper Nathan Hindmarsh was brutally honest about what the potential loss of Mateo could mean to the Eels.

“We are up shit creek pretty much, we’ve got one paddle (Mateo) left, if we loose that we’re in strife,” Hindmarsh said.

“Its going to be difficult for us. “This year he’s been our standout player and sets up most of our tries and scores a lot himself.”

Paramatta coach Michael Hagan believed the Eels needed to win five of their eight games to make the finals and said he couldn’t knock the effort of his players.

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