Eels hope they've found the new Sterlo - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eels hope they've found the new Sterlo

Ben Horne 04/05/2011 06:56:57 PM Comments (0)

Chris Sandow has run with the nickname "Aboriginal Alfie" since he broke into the NRL, but Parramatta hope their new signing can live up to comparisons with another former champion.

From the moment Peter Sterling hung up his boots in the early 90s, the Eels have been searching for another great halfback capable of breaking their 25-year premiership drought.

Even though South Sydney didn't allow Parramatta the pleasure of announcing it themselves, the Eels were delighted to have finally landed a big-name star after several failures on the open market.

Sandow's four-year commitment to the Eels from next year is the bright news fans have been longing for, after a less-than-impressive start to 2011 and more than two decades of emptiness.

Since the tiny 22-year-old from Cherbourg, north-west of Brisbane, made his first grade debut in 2008 he's shown glimpses of the huge potential that sparked similarities to Queensland great Allan Langer.

Although he's been heavily criticised for his inconsistency and flashiness, there's plenty of evidence to suggest Sandow could develop into one of the game's best.

He's already featured in Mal Meninga's emerging Maroons State of Origin squads and supercoach Wayne Bennett reportedly recommended Parramatta to pursue him.

Sandow single-handedly destroyed Cronulla last week, despite the weight of contract negotiations on his mind.

Osborne said his new man is ready to handle the pressure of being the new Sterling.

"He's been under enormous pressure, but his form's been magical," said Osborne.

"That's something we can be excited about.

"Pete Sterling was a once-in-a-lifetime halfback and I think anyone that dons the No.7 for the next 100 years will be compared to Sterlo.

"Chris is a great player."

The Eels have been unsuccessful in their pursuit of halfback stars in recent years - with Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Wallabies flyhalf Quade Cooper among those to turn them down.

Securing Sandow is a giant relief for the club given the shortage of star playmakers in the modern game.

Sandow said his passion for the game will see him cope with the expectations that go with pulling on Sterling's No.7.

"I came here to South Sydney with heaps of pressure too," he said.

"All my family back in Cherbourg, they grew up the same way but did the wrong decisions in life ... I moved away and did something with my life.

"I love my rugby league, I'll never leave. It's in my heart."

When he first arrived in Sydney, Sandow admits he often got lost driving to Souths training and hopes a GPS is part of his lucrative Parramatta deal.

"I actually don't (know my way to Parramatta), but I'll find my way there," he said.

"I grew up in the mission in the bush ... 100 dollars is a lot of money for me ... I don't care about money."

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