Jon Tuxworth August 07, 2012
Raiders player Sandor Earl takes on his old club this weekend. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Canberra Raiders winger Sandor Earl has primed himself to ''prove a point'' when he returns to Penrith this weekend for the first time since quitting the club.
Frustrated with a lack of opportunities at the Panthers, Earl requested a mid-season release in late June.
It's a punt that has paid off, with the 22-year-old set to announce a two-year deal with Canberra as soon as this week.
Having languished in NSW Cup for most of the year with Windsor, Earl has proven he belongs in the NRL over the past six weeks at the Raiders.
He plans to remind Penrith of that when he runs onto Centrebet Stadium as the enemy on Sunday.
''It was one [game] I looked at and thought 'this is going to be interesting','' Earl said yesterday.
''Now it's here I'm really excited. Obviously I'm still friends with all the boys, but [I have] a bit of a point to prove I guess.
''I'd love to go back there and get a win, have a good game, score a try, the whole lot.''
Earl revealed he was selected by the Panthers to play against Gold Coast in round 17, just days after agreeing to terms with the Raiders.
''The week I got told [Canberra wanted me] I got called up [for first grade] so that threw a spanner in the works and it was a bit awkward,'' Earl said.
''But I thought maybe it's one of those things in your career you have to take, and obviously I'm glad I did.
''It did hurt getting a game in dribs and drabs and not getting that opportunity to put a few together.
''Consistency is one of the biggest things I've been trying to chase my whole career, and coming down here I've had a chance to do that.''
Earl plans on repaying Canberra's faith by making the capital his long-term home.
He has built a tremendous rapport on the right edge with centre Blake Ferguson, and the pair will soon be living under the same roof.
''We're looking at a two-year deal and we're pretty close to having that done, so I'm really excited,'' Earl said.
''Coming from Sydney my whole life you look at Canberra and it probably doesn't seem as appealing, but I've really enjoyed the place.''
He's known for his racy modelling shoots off the field, but Earl has shown he has substance to back up his style with an aggressive approach at the Raiders.
''That's one of my strong points is getting there and helping out [the forwards with a few hit-ups], so if I could have the best of both worlds on and off the field, that would be a nice persona,'' he said.
Earl's imminent retention follows confirmation yesterday the Raiders have signed Newcastle second-rower Joel Edwards for the next three seasons. Canberra is also hopeful of striking a new deal with veteran utility Shaun Berrigan to keep him at the club next year.
''We met with his [Earl's] manager last week, he wants to stay and we want to keep him,'' Raiders boss Don Furner said.
''We had our eye on him two or three years ago, but we ended up taking a punt on Reece [Robinson].
''Dave [Furner, Raiders coach] would like to keep Berro because he can play so many positions and his experience. We were always going to wait until the end of the year to see how he was holding up, but he's told his manager he does want to stay.''
Panthers v Raiders at Centrebet Stadium, 2pm. TV Time: Live on Fox Sports 2.