Storm's Sandor Earl suffers ACL injury
Sandor Earl's NRL comeback is over before it began with the 28-year-old Storm winger tearing his ACL at training.
The injury will require surgery and all but ends Earl's hopes of returning to the NRL in 2018.
Earl played 48 NRL games for the Roosters, Panthers and Raiders before being banned for four years from August 2013 following an ASADA investigation into the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
With his ban expired, Earl was thrown a lifeline by the Storm ahead of the 2018 season, however the club announced on Wednesday that Earl had suffered an ACL injury at training and would require surgery.
"Scans [Wednesday] revealed the extent of the 28-year old's injury to his right knee, following an innocuous non-contact drill," the Storm stated.
Melbourne Storm football director Frank Ponissi said everyone at the Storm was "devastated" for Earl.
"He is understandably shattered at the moment and we will support him in every way on and off the field to assist Sandor's return back to playing," Ponissi said.
"While he has only been with the club a short time, he has earned the respect of the coaches and players in the way he has approached training and embraced the standards and values of our club.
"We have no doubt he will approach his rehab with the same impressive attitude."
Earl shared the news via a Facebook post.
"This is by far my most heartbreaking post to date!" Earl wrote.
"Unfortunately [Tuesday] during a skills session I tore my ACL.
"As many of you may know this is the one injury all athletes wish to avoid. It is a freak accident and a tough pill to swallow.
"I couldn't have done anymore in preparation and in effort. I was truly working towards something great this pre-season. The Melbourne Storm have not only taken me on as a team mate and family but been amazing through this transition and awful news.
"This is not the way I envisioned repaying such an amazing club, however it's not over yet.
"If I hadn't already I'm looking to set new standards to the definition comeback.
"I will now shift my focus to rehab and being the best clubman I can be to return bigger and better and make an impact at this great club.
"I appreciate everyone's support to date. Although some may be upset I can only ask that you push me to new heights to achieve something special over this next period."
This is by far my most heartbreaking post to date!— Sandor Earl (@sandorearl) November 22, 2017
Unfortunately yesterday during a skills session I tore my ACL.... https://t.co/XXToVv8QWw