Canterbury coach Des Hasler says in-form Parramatta are a dangerous proposition with unpredictable playmaker Chris Sandow and coach Brad Arthur having found a “happy medium”.
Sandow and Arthur were on the cusp of an ugly divorce earlier this season after the off-contract halfback publicly complained that his style was getting cramped by the mentor’s game plan.
But Hasler says that’s in the past as the Eels have since reeled off three straight wins and now have the chance of leapfrogging the Bulldogs into the top eight when they meet at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
“You just don’t know what he’s going to do at a particular time,” Hasler said of Sandow’s game.
“They’ve seemed to be able to manage that well and to find a happy medium.
“And in the past month, it’s worked really well for them.
“He got them out of a couple of sticky situations and he’s won games for them.”
The Eels have faced plenty of adversity throughout the first half of this season, including the Kieran Foran contract drama and the salary cap breaches that resulted in the third heaviest fine in NRL history.
But Hasler praised Parramatta for overcoming their off-field struggles and keeping their season alive.
“They’ve been going very well. They’ve just been going along quietly,” he said.
“They’ve overcome certain challenges, not so much on the field, but off the field.
“The playing group have stuck really close, which is good to see, and Brad’s got them playing well and with a bit of belief.”
Hasler explained his decision to re-unite Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds at the scrumbase was to lighten the load on young playmaker Moses Mbye for Friday night’s clash.
“It’s been a big couple of weeks for him,” he said.
“He has that versatility role about him (but) it’s one that we don’t really want to rush.”
Mbye is expected to partner Reynolds in the halves next season after Hodkinson last week announced a move to Newcastle.