Earl’s long road to redemption
IT APPEARS winger Sandor Earl's six-year stint in the NRL wilderness is about to come to an end at 1300SMILES Stadium tomorrow night.
The former Penrith Panthers and Canberra Raiders winger is expected to be a late inclusion in the Melbourne Storm 17-man side after flying to Townsville with the team.
Earl has spent more than 2000 days waiting for an NRL return, and if he does take the field will be the first player to return after a four-year ban in what has become a remarkable comeback story.
The former high-flyer, who has not played in the top grade since Round 24 2013, was handed a ban for trafficking peptides and soon relocated out of the country.
He was handed an unlikely lifeline by the Melbourne club in 2018, but it appeared his chance of making it back to the top grade were all but over when he ruptured his ACL in pre-season training.
But after 12-months on the sidelines, and being handed a two-year contract extension, it appears his unwavering perseverance is about to pay off.
While Storm coach Craig Bellamy said he was yet to finalise his playing squad, he admitted Earl had travelled as cover for players under injury clouds.
"We think he is ready, if we put him in he will need to be ready," Bellamy said. "He has had a good pre-season and he is a really hard worker.
"It's quite unbelievable what he has done. After what he has been through and the amount of time he has been out and then to have the ACL injury.
"He has persevered really hard, he is a resilient character and it has been a long time between NRL games for him. It will be a little different but he has worked hard, so if he does make it into our line-up I am sure he will do a good job for us.
"We have got a couple of issues at the moment with a couple of injuries. We have a couple of guys we need to look at … he is certainly with us, and he is certainly a chance."
Earl is in fine form on the field after scoring a hat-trick for the Sunshine Coast Falcons in their 50-10 shellacking of Cowboys feeder club Northern Pride in the Queensland Cup last weekend.