Once the man to tell Scott Sorensen he wasn’t getting an NRL contract, Michael Maguire enjoyed letting the Panthers forward know he would be joining the Kiwis for their mid-year test.
In 2015, after a first year in the NRL in which he made three appearances for Cronulla, Sorensen spent the preseason sweating the then Maguire-coached Rabbitohs, but was unable to earn a spot on the team.
Seven years later, Sorensen’s form as part of the leading Penrith Panthers – with whom he won a Premiership last year – saw Maguire call again.
This time the call was much better news.
“To talk to Scotty about coming to camp… it was very special,” Maguire told NRL.com. “I had kept in touch with Scotty along the way and tried to get a hold of him at club level every now and then.
“He would always be something special.
“His work ethic is up there with the best I’ve seen.”
Sorensen too hot to handle
After just 39 NRL appearances between 2014 and 2020, Sorensen’s career had stalled for the 2021 season and could have been completely over if not for a lifeline from Ivan Cleary and the Panthers.
He has since established himself as a key member of the Penrith squad, whom he owes for helping earn a spot in New Zealand’s 25-man squad.
“It was a tough time (late 2020), but I always had the fire in my stomach and the desire to keep playing NRL,” said Sorensen of his career to date.
“Penrith came to call and I am so grateful. I truly believe that if I wasn’t with the Panthers, I wouldn’t be here with the Kiwis.
“It’s been a rollercoaster but I’m super excited and the New Zealand guys have all welcomed me with open arms and made me feel so welcome.
“I know my bloodline and it’s special for me to be here. During the week to make my father stop in my driveway in tears…when I saw that I knew I was doing the right thing.”
If the Kiwis hadn’t come calling, there’s a good chance Sorensen would still take to the field at Mount Smart Stadium this Saturday, albeit for Mate Ma’a Tonga, who he also gets to represent.
“I have that bloodline too and for the past few years I had spoken to Tonga and they would let me know I was on the radar,” Sorensen said. “But when New Zealand knocked, it just felt good to be with the Kiwis.”
Should he make the final 17 against Tonga, he will become the fifth member of the Sorensen family to play for the Kiwis.
Grandfather Bill appeared in 21 Tests, while Bill’s brother Dave also played for New Zealand.
Kurt and Dane Sorensen – Scott’s uncles – were among the best players to wear the black jersey in the 1970s and 1980s, and both also enjoyed stellar careers at the club level with Cronulla and Eastern Suburbs.
While he was clearly thrilled with his cousin’s selection, Kurt admitted he didn’t see it coming.
“When I was told that Scott had made the New Zealand roster, I kind of said ‘well, that was a surprise,'” Kurt said.
“His story has only developed in the last two years in the NRL and now he has his foot in the international doors which I am sure he never thought would happen.
“He came to a club where everyone was probably thinking ‘Jesus, he wouldn’t have much of a chance to play at Penrith’, but he’s made every post a winner.
“He is a very neat player and a man you can really rely on. He works hard and does most small things correctly and is an asset to a team.”
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