The rollercoaster career of Chris Sandow has embarked on another corkscrew turn following Warrington Wolves’ announcement that their enigmatic halfback won’t be returning for season 2017.
Sandow, who is in Australia preparing for a charity boxing match against fellow wayward playmaker Todd Carney next month, reportedly text his manager to say he would not be going back to the Super League club, who then informed the Wolves.
— Warrington Wolves (@wolvesrl) November 21, 2016
“Chris is contracted until the end of 2017 and should have reported for pre-season training today (21 November),” Warrington’s head of rugby operations Karl Fitzpatrick said in a statement.
“This is a clear breach of contract. We will be retaining his registration until further notice. We the club are disappointed that Chris has decided not to return, we are already underway in monitoring a potential replacement both internally and externally.”
After being released by Parramatta in July 2015, Sandow linked with the Wolves and has produced numerous sparkling highlights – but the halfback has lived up to his reputation as a troublesome off-field personality.
The Wolves’ Australian coach, Tony Smith, indicated the overwhelming reaction to the news of Sandow’s abrupt departure was relief rather than disappointment.
“In terms of off-field, there will be a few less grey hairs around the place, that’s for sure,” Smith told English rugby league website TotalRL.
“He was OK for most of it, and sometimes he was a pain in the proverbial. He was a fair mix, he was certainly a character, as everyone had worked out.
“He brightened us up at different stages and was exciting to watch for a while, but he became a bit unreliable. For him to ring, well not ring, to inform the club, none of it is surprising to us.
“We knew there was risk involved when we recruited him in the first place. On his day he’s capable of doing some really special things, as we saw in the first couple of months of the year.
“We saw glimpses of what he is capable of after that, I don’t think he was as near as comprehensive as he was in the first half of the season.”
Todd Carney, Dave Taylor, Frank Pritchard, now Chris Sandow – some of SL’s biggest-name overseas signings all cut short their time here.
— Phil Wilkinson (@PWilkinsonWIG) November 21, 2016
Sandow was sidelined from the latter part of Warrington’s 2016 campaign through injury, before returning on the bench for the Super League grand final loss to Wigan.
Meanwhile, someone who it can only assumed is a disgruntled Wolves fans has already taken his revenge on Sandow’s Wikipedia page.
With a move to a rival Super League club seemingly unlikely, speculation will rage over Sandow’s potential return to the NRL.
The goalkicking No.7 played 159 NRL games for South Sydney and Parramatta from 2008-15, scoring 820 points and winning many matches on the back of his brilliant skill and instincts.
But he was notoriously inconsistent and a turnstile in defence, while his big-money stay with the Eels was plagued by stints in rehab, gambling problems and social media outbursts.
So who are his would-be NRL suitors?
- Newcastle are linked to any available player with experience and a skerrick of ability, but they are well-served for halves thanks to experienced former Origin duo Trent Hodkinson and Jarrod Mullen, and young guns Brock Lamb and Jack Cogger.
- Parramatta need a halfback after Kieran Foran’s dramatic departure and the club’s failed bid for South Sydney’s Adam Reynolds, but Sandow’s behaviour during his four seasons with the Eels – and his frosty relationship with coach Brad Arthur – would rule them out of even contemplating an approach. Corey Norman and Clint Gutherson are the blue-and-golds’ likely 2017 pairing.
- With doubts remaining over Canterbury’s halves Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds, Sandow could be a left-field pick-up for a Bulldogs side that has been very quiet on the recruitment front – but he’s not really a Des Hasler-type player.
- The five-eighth spot at Melbourne is still up for grabs, with the club linked to Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran to fill the role vacated by Blake Green. Off-the-cuff Sandow seems an odd fit for the clinical Storm, but if anyone could put him on the straight and narrow, it’s Bellamy, Smith and Cronk.
- Marshall’s departure has freed up the No.7 jumper at St George Illawarra, but the Dragons seem content to forge ahead with youngster Drew Hutchison in the hot-seat for now.
As strange as it would seem for Sandow to ditch his Warrington contract without having had a nibble or two from an Australian club, it’s even more absurd that an NRL outfit would take a punt on a player whose unreliability on and off the field far exceeds his talent.