Sandor Earl named for reserve-grade comeback

Oliver Caffrey

After almost five years out while battling scandal and injury, Sandor Earl will finally make a quiet return to a rugby league field this weekend.

The 28-year-old was handed a career lifeline by Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy only to suffer an ACL injury in November, which cast doubt on whether he would ever add to his 48 NRL games.

But Earl is now preparing to make his comeback on Saturday after being named to play for Storm feeder team Sunshine Coast Falcons in a Queensland Cup match.

His last NRL game was in round 24, 2013 for Canberra against Manly.

Melbourne signed Earl in October following the end of his four-year backdated ban handed out in 2015 for using and trafficking performance-enhancing drugs while he was with Penrith in 2011.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy praised the character of Earl at the time.

"While (Earl) has been sidelined, he has maintained his fitness levels to a high level," Bellamy said.

"Anyone that is prepared to put in the work after what he has been through deserves a second chance."

Sandor Earl. Pic: Getty

Earl made his NRL debut for the Roosters in 2009 before moving to Penrith for three seasons.

His best football came in the nation's capital, but he was stood down from the Raiders in August 2013 after being issued his infraction notice.

He wrote a column on the Storm's website in April outlining how grateful he was to be given another chance.

"I would give back all the games I've played and every try I've scored just to be able to start my career again here at Melbourne Storm," Earl said.

"This place is the dream for a player, you want to be part of a culture where you are playing for your coaches and trying to earn that respect.

"It is definitely 10-fold on anything I've ever been part of."