Storm's Earl hopes Nines lead back to NRL
Melbourne's Sandor Earl feels like it's now or never for his interrupted NRL career, which he hopes to kickstart at this weekend's Nines in Perth.
With his "fearless" approach to 2020, Earl and Fijian-born prop Tui Kamikamica have been rewarded with co-captaincy of the Storm's Nines outfit.
With the departure of both Storm wingers Suli Vunivalu and Josh Addo-Carr at the end of this season, Earl says he wants to grab one vacancy.
Earl's career stalled at Canberra when he was banned for four years for a doping offence. He was signed by Melbourne in late 2017 only to suffer a serious knee injury which sidelined him for the entire next season.
Off contract at the end of the season, the 30-year-old knows this year might be his last roll of the dice.
He only made his Storm debut in round five last year, with more than 2000 days between first-grade games.
"Last year was like getting the monkey off my back ... now, I feel like I've got nothing to lose," Earl said on Monday.
"I want to be here at the club and play further footy and now I've got a bit of a fearless mentality which is something I didn't have last year.
"I'll start with the Nines and play some good fun footy and build some confidence.
"We've got two wingers leaving at the end of the season so I want to put myself in the frame so it's my chance to stand up and say 'one of those positions is mine'."
Earl is even hoping to put his hand up play in the Melbourne centres, with Curtis Scott and Will Chambers moving on but admits there's plenty of competition.
The Storm Nines team is set to feature Test five-eighth Cameron Munster and a number of fringe first-graders, including back Nicho Hynes and halfback Cooper Johns.
Both those youngsters have created a pre-season buzz, with Earl giving Hynes a big wrap.
"Nicho has just got that ability to read the play and he plays eyes-up footy and he doesn't fear anything so you will see a lot of involvement from him," Earl said of the 23-year-old.
It's Kamikamica's first crack at Nines but he played rugby sevens as a winger in Fiji before switching to league in 2016 and putting on 30kgs.
© AAP 2020