Hazem El Masri
Exciting, unpredictable try-scoring winger, and a phenomenally consistent goal-kicker, has become a role model for a new generation of rugby league fans. The Bulldogs’ ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 1997, El Masri – a devout Muslim and a hard-working volunteer with Bankstown’s youth – was named the club’s Player of the Year in 2000 (he even had a local competition named after him). ‘El Magic’, as he is known to his fans, regularly shifted to the centres as well as filling in at fullback during the 2000 season.
After captaining Lebanon in the 2000 World Cup, he finished the 2001 season by equalling Darryl Halligan’s club record of 270pts (his 19 tries also equalled the club record set by Chris Anderson in 1983 although this mark was bettered by Nigel Vagana the following year.)
In 2002, the year the front-running Bulldogs were stripped of their competition points for rorting the salary cap El Masri made his only rep appearance to date when he landed four goals in Australia’s 32-24 win over NZ in October. The following year he kicked an Australian Rugby League record 35 consecutive goals (Bateley’s Barry Eaton kicked his 38th goal in a National League match in England on the same day). The leading point-scorer in consecutive seasons (2002-04) his 324pts (16t and a record 139g) in the Bulldogs’ premiership-winning 2004 season remains an individual points record that may never be bettered. However his value as a try-scorer (none better than the try to give the Bulldogs the lead in the 2004 grand final against the Roosters) should not be underestimated.