Former schoolmates set to collide at ANZ Stadium
Thursday 27 June 2013 10:56 AM
Sandor Earl spent his school days collecting Adam Reynolds’ kicks for tries in their all-conquering Matraville Sports High side, but this Friday night he will be doing all he can to nullify the kicking game of his childhood friend.
Earl and Reynolds were a part of the Arrive Alive Cup winning Matraville side that defeated Patrician Brothers Blacktown 32-10 in 2007. Earl scored a try in the Grand Final whilst Reynolds slotted four goals and was awarded the Peter Sterling Medal for player of the year.
The pair were great friends during their school days however that won’t be the case for 80 minutes on Friday night.
Reynolds’ kicking game doesn’t just guide Souths around the park, it also possesses plenty of venom and regularly adds to the scoreboard, as evidenced by his two try assists from kicks against the Eels last week.
Earl knows too well the potency of Reynolds’ kicking game having previously been the benefactor and he is focused on preventing its effectiveness when the Raiders take on the Rabbitohs in their first free-to-air match of the year.
“We were pretty good mates at school,” Earl said. “Everyone in the side had a good relationship but he and I were good mates regardless.
“I played in the Roosters SG Ball side and Matraville recruited most of the Roosters and most of the Souths boys for the final years of school. It was a really good side with a combination of players from both clubs.
“Adam was already pretty highly regarded and had been at Matraville a year or so before me. He was our starting halfback and definitely one of our better players. Everyone assumed he would kick on and it hasn’t really been a surprise to see how well he’s gone.
“Adam was on the left side back then so he was kicking to me out on the right wing. His kicking game was great even back then. He definitely hooked me up with a lot of tries from kicks at school but it’s my job to try and stop them this Friday.
“That’s one thing that I’ll be focusing on all week. If I can shut down his kicking game it will go a long way to helping us win, particularly in horrendous conditions. I’m excited about the challenge.”
Whilst Reynolds’ kicking game is the centrepiece of the Rabbitohs’ playing structure, Earl believes that the Green Machine will also have to be wary of his underrated running game.
“It’s been pretty documented that he may have stopped running as much since he had that serious injury but that was one of the big keys of his game back then and it’s an underrated part of his game now,” Earl said.
“He’s always had those really typical halfback traits which is what he built his game around, although when we were younger he had a massive running game and he would score a lot of tries taking the line on.
“He’s a big game player and under pressure he always performs. We’ll have to watch him carefully.”
The Raiders have plenty of motivation behind this clash given that the Rabbitohs knocked them out of the competition in last year’s preliminary final played at the same venue.
“We owe Souths one from last year and we’ll be pumped up,” Earl said. “I know I get excited when we play against the big teams and they’re in first place for a reason. We were disappointing last week but we’re keen to make amends this week.
“It’d also be good to get a win over my old mate,” laughed Earl.
The match against South Sydney kicks off this Friday at 7:45pm at ANZ Stadium.