Sandor Earl's form has been poor over the past three weeks. Photo: Melissa Adams
Sandor Earl’s form for the Canberra Raiders this year mirrored someone whose head is stuck in the clouds. With him facing drug use and trafficking charges which carry a potential life ban, we now know why.
The last few weeks he’s looked distracted. The winger’s recent performances have been error-riddled, aloof and lacking in commitment. A shadow of the player who made a huge impact as a mid-season signing last year.
Most thought one foot was simply on the plane to Europe after signing a two-season deal with French rugby side Pau, which starts next year.
If only that was the case.
While his teammates were in Auckland preparing to play the Warriors, Earl went into hiding on Thursday as his world crumbled around him.
The Raiders moved to distance themselves from the saga, issuing a statement where chief executive Don Furner said the allegations ‘‘relate to a time prior to his arrival at the club’’.
Earl was at the Sydney Roosters in 2009 and Penrith from 2010 to mid-2012. His admission to trafficking peptide CJC1295 means there will be an unfair stigma over players on those rosters.
The 23-year-old has 10 days to consider the charges ASADA have laid against him, and decide whether he wants to accept them or challenge at a tribunal.
Earl posted inspirational quotes on his Twitter feed on Thursday, imploring his mates to stand by him.
‘‘Real isn’t who’s with you at your celebration, real is who’s standing by you at rock bottom.’’ Another said ‘‘Sometimes you’ve got to fall before you fly.’’
Earl is a part-time underwear model. He’s used to being the face of things.
Unfortunately he’s now the face of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s ongoing war against drugs.
NRL fans, and Raiders supporters who have endured the season from hell, have their fingers crossed he’s the only one to fall from grace.