Milestone man Scott Sorensen may not be playing his 100th NRL game this weekend if it weren’t for a lifeline handed out by the Panthers back in 2021.
With his rugby league career in limbo, Sorensen had two options: relocate his young family overseas to play in the Super League or return to his old job working at Port Botany’s shipping terminals.
“I had a foot in the door at Port Botany… so I thought I would’ve gone back there as it was a safety net for me,” Sorensen revealed on Tuesday.
“I enjoyed working there, so that probably would’ve been it. I probably would’ve fallen back there then figured out what the next thing was.”
Debuting in 2014 with the Cronulla Sharks, Sorensen bounced around the league for several years before eventually landing on Penrith’s doorstep weeks prior to the start of the 2021 NRL season.
Sorensen said it was touch and go as to whether he’d stay in the NRL before the Panthers came calling.
“I had a one-year-old at the time and the first thing I thought about was supporting my family, so if that meant closing the door on the NRL dream then so be it,” he said.
“I was 27 or 28 at that stage, so I thought ‘OK, it’s time to grow up and be realistic’. I have to understand, and I have to put my family first. I was pretty close to [leaving it all behind] but I was fortunate enough to get a phone call to come for a meeting at Penrith and one thing led to another.”
That call was one of the most important of his life and now Sorensen is a two-time Premiership winner, racking up 60 games for the Panthers in the process. The 30-year-old said he couldn’t be more grateful for the club.
“I can’t thank this club enough – I’m just extremely, extremely grateful,” Sorensen said.
“I’ve said it so many times how much I am grateful because I really do mean it.
“They gave me a shot and just the belief that Ivan (Cleary) has built in me to continue my journey, I’m really enjoying and loving it out here.”
In June, Sorensen repaid the faith the Panthers showed in him all those years ago by re-signing with the back-to-back Premiers until the end of 2026. He had several suitors chasing his signature but ultimately decided Penrith was the place to see out his fascinating career.
“I absolutely love it here, I feel like I’ve found a good spot,” Sorensen said.
“We talk about the culture out here and that’s exactly what I love – I love the culture, I love the boys and Ivan as well. It was a no-brainer to stay, I’m very happy out here.”
Sorensen will have his family and friends in the BlueBet Stadium crowd on Saturday night when he lines up against his old club Cronulla for his 100th game.
It will be a special moment for the in-form backrower because it was highly likely his century may never have happened.
“It’s funny how it all pans out in the footy world, but I’m more excited for the challenge of playing the Sharks let alone the 100 games,” Sorensen said.
“I have so many people to thank for helping me get in this position – my family and of course this great club for giving me this opportunity to continue my journey.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.