Former South Sydney and Parramatta halfback Chris Sandow has vowed to win over the Warrington fans as he prepares for his first full season in the Super League.
Sandow struggled to make a positive impression for his new club following his mid-season release from the Eels last year but the mercurial playmaker insists he’s fresh and ready to prove his worth against champions Leeds in Thursday’s season opener.
The 27-year-old endured a nightmare start to his career with the Wolves when his new club crashed to a 49-10 defeat at Leeds in the opening match of the Super 8 finals last August.
However, a trip back home to Kingaroy in Queensland to refresh himself, followed by a full pre-season of training, has put the spring back in the step of Sandow who says he’s ready to redeem himself.
“It was tough but that was last year,” Sandow said.
“People have their opinion on players and I had my fair share (of criticism). It was just hard coming into a great club like Warrington halfway through the season and trying to play to your ability.
“I didn’t know their footy style and stuff like that but they know how I play now. I feel a lot different. I’ve got an off season under my belt with the boys and I feel a lot different and a bit more comfortable.”
Warrington coach Tony Smith says the criticism of Sandow was unfair and he is expecting the player to show his true colours in 2016, especially alongside fellow countryman Kurt Gidley, who is one of six new signings named in his 19-man squad.
“He knows what’s expected, he’s not shocked by Super League or anything this year,” he said.
“When he came to us he was pretty shattered at the time. He was a bit of a shell of a guy and it was an eye-opener for him.
“I know some people judged him on those last few games. I was quite pleased with what he produced, being thrown into a team that probably wasn’t ripping it up when he joined us.
“I’d like to think he’s a lot different personality now and also a lot more motivated. He’s been training exceptionally well and we’re expecting Kurt to take some pressure off him and allow him to play some of his natural game.”
Former NSW and Australia prop Keith Galloway will make his Super League debut for the Rhinos following his move from Wests Tigers.
Leeds, who will also give a debut to ex-Gold Coast hooker Beau Falloon if he passes a late fitness test on a foot injury.