Super League club Hull KR have stepped up their search for a new halfback following the loss of skipper Terry Campese for the rest of the season, but coach Chris Chester says they can’t bring in Parramatta’s Chris Sandow because he’s a “full-blown Aussie”.
Campese, who made a tremendous start to his Super League career, is facing a six-month lay-off after it was confirmed on Wednesday he had suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament against Castleford a fortnight ago.
The former Canberra stand-off will undergo reconstructive surgery but Chester insists there are no long-term fears for his skipper, who recently signed a two-year contract extension, and that he will be fit for the start of the 2016 Super League season.
Chester will stick with the versatile Maurice Blair as the halfback partner for Albert Kelly against Warrington on Friday but says he was already on the look-out for an extra halfback for next season.
Rovers have been linked with Sandow, 26, who looks to be on his way out of Parramatta, but Chester says his club are hampered by red tape.
“We’re certainly not bringing in Chris Sandow,” Chester said.
“We haven’t got any quota spots available so whoever we bring in will have to have a European or a Samoan or Tongan passport.
“Terry Campese has got an Italian passport.
“We’ve talked to a couple of players’ agents overseas who have come up with a couple of names but it’s very early days because last week we thought he was only going to be missing for three or four weeks. We found out late last night that it would be six months.
“There are a few good names out there but we can’t fit a quota player in. I’m pretty sure Chris Sandow is a full-blown Aussie.”
Chester says the club will find a role for Campese during his rehabilitation.
“It’s obviously a big blow to the club but more so for Terry because I think he’s been the best overseas signing to come over here this year and definitely a Man of Steel candidate,” Chester said.
“The surgeon’s very confident that he’ll come back a new bloke.
“It’s going to be six months which will take him up to December, so he’ll play some part in the friendlies over January and be ready for the start of Super League.
“He’ll be down at every training session – the boys can learn a lot off him. He knows how to play the game, he’ll make a great coach when he eventually finishes playing.”