Hazem El Masri
|El Masri playing for the Bulldogs in 2004|
1 April 1976 |
|Height||178 cm (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||90 kg (14 st 2 lb)|
|2007||New South Wales||1||1||3||0||10|
|Source: Rugby League Project|
Hazem El Masri (Arabic: حازم المصري) (born 1 April 1976) is a Lebanese-Australian retired professional rugby league footballer of the 1990s and 2000s. An Australia and Lebanon international, and New South Wales State of Origin representative winger, he played his entire club football career with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs with whom he won the 2004 NRL Premiership. Possibly Australia's greatest goal-kicker of all time, in 2009 (his final season in the NRL) El Masri took the record for the highest-ever point scorer in premiership history and for a record sixth time was the League's top point scorer for the season. He also became only the seventh player in history to score over 150 NRL tries, having primarily played on the wing, but also at fullback.
El Masri is a self-identified devout Muslim. He is widely respected for his community work with young people, winning the NRL's Ken Stephen Award in 2002. The award recognises players who contribute to the betterment of their community away from rugby league.
El Masri was born in Tripoli, Lebanon on 1 April 1976 and emigrated to Australia with his family from there in 1988 when he was 12 years old. He began playing soccer at an early age but during his senior years in high school switched to rugby league, joining a local club side, the Enfield Federals.
Rugby league career
While playing for Belmore Boys High School, in 1994 El Masri was spotted by Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs development officers and was invited to trials for their Jersey Flegg side. The following year he was quickly elevated to the President's Cup squad. He debuted in the Sydney Bulldogs' first grade team during the 1996 ARL season.
El Masri was not the first choice goal-kicker at the Bulldogs for his first five seasons at the club because the club still featured renowned sharp shooter Daryl Halligan. It was not until Halligan was injured in 1997 that El Masri first kicked for the Bulldogs. In that year's Super League season El Masri scored a memorable hat-trick of tries against English club Halifax.
El Masri had become a regular member of the Bulldogs squad by the 1998 NRL season.
The Lebanon national rugby league team had qualified for their first ever World Cup in 2000 and El Masri was selected to captain the side. He played in all 3 of Lebanon's World Cup games. He played in the Lebanese first ever World Cup Match against New Zealand and lost 64-0. He scored a try and kicked 3 goals in their 24-22 loss to Wales. He scored 2 tries and kicked 3 goals in their 22-22 draw against the Cook Islands. At the end of the Group Stage, Lebanon finished on 1 point and it was not enough for them to advance to the Knockout Stage. At the end of the World Cup his stat was 3 tries and 6 goals for 24 points for Lebanon. His brother, Samer El Masri, also played for Lebanon.
El Masri played for the City representative side in the annual City vs Country Origin fixture on five occasions.
In 2002 El Masri topped the League's point-scoring table for the first time and rejected a $2 million offer from the South Sydney Rabbitohs, opting to stay with the Bulldogs. In 2002, he played for the Australian team against New Zealand. El Masri set a new record for most goals scored by a Bulldogs player in a single match with 11 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Round 21, 2003
El Masri broke the National Rugby League point scoring record for a single season with 342 points (16 tries and 139 goals) in the 2004 season. He then played for the Bulldogs on the wing in their 2004 NRL grand final victory over cross-city rivals the Sydney Roosters, scoring a try and kicking two goals. As 2004 NRL premiers, the Bulldogs faced Super League IX champions, the Leeds Rhinos in the 2005 World Club Challenge. El Masri played on the wing, scoring two tries and kicking four goals in the Bulldogs' 32-39 loss.
El Masri is married to Arwa with three children Lamya, Zayd, and Serine. He was one of the first Lebanese Australians to step forward in the name of friendship and understanding in the wake of the racially motivated 2005 Cronulla riots. El Masri set the Canterbury-Bankstown club's career points record, surpassing Daryl Halligan in 2005.
In 2006, El Masri broke another two club records: the most points scored for a single game (34 points, Rd 2 vs Wests Tigers) and the most first grade tries for the Bulldogs (123, Rd 13 vs Newcastle Knights). He also kicked his 600th goal during that match.
El Masri broke the 1900 point record after scoring 14 points in Round 8, 2007 against the Newcastle Knights, defeating them 30–16 and becoming the sixth player to ever surpass that point, along with Graham Eadie, Mick Cronin, Daryl Halligan, Jason Taylor and Andrew Johns. El Masri was called up to Game 3 of the 2007 State of Origin series to make his debut after Jamie Lyon was ruled out through injury. He kicked three conversions from the sideline, and scored the final try, giving him 10 points in total. Also in 2007, Bill Woods published an authorised biography, El Magic: the life of Hazem El Masri.
El Masri broke the all-time highest NRL career point scoring record in front of a crowd of 19,791 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in round 1, 2009, with a penalty goal on a rainy Saturday night, giving him 2,208 points. On Friday 15 May 2009, El Masri played his 300th game in the Bulldogs 20–18 loss to the Dragons at Win Jubilee Stadium. His 300th game marked another record broken; becoming the first Bulldogs player to reach this milestone. He joined the exclusive '300' club behind, Darren Lockyer (355), Terry Lamb (349), Steve Menzies (349), Brad Fittler (336), Cliff Lyons (332), Andrew Ettingshausen (328), Geoff Gerard (320), Jason Croker (318), Paul Langmack (315), Ruben Wiki (312), Steve Price (306), Luke Ricketson (301) and Petero Civoniceva (300). In June, 2009, El Masri announced that he would retire from the NRL at the end of the 2009 season. He played his 317th and final game on 25 September 2009 against the Parramatta Eels in the preliminary final in front of a crowd of 74,549 people, the largest finals crowd ever recorded for a non-grand final. Lebanon Cedars' coach John Elias approached El Masri to play a one-off European Cup tie for Lebanon against Russia in Tripoli in October, 2009. El Masri considered accepting this invitation but found himself unable to do so.
With El Masri holding the NRL career point scoring record of 2,418 points in 317 games (159 tries, 891/1087 goals at 81.97%), an interesting question remains of just how many career points he would have scored had the Bulldogs not already had an established goal kicker of Daryl Halligan's ability (79.31% career average) during the early part of his career. In his first five seasons (1996-2000), El Masri played 94 games and only scored 194 points (44 tries, 9/12 goals) at an average of just over 2 points per game. Over the last nine years of his career (2001-09) following the retirement of Halligan, El Masri played 223 games and scored 2,224 points (115 tries, 882/1065 goals at 82.8%), an average of 9.97 points per game. Had he been Canterbury's first choice goal kicker from the start of his career, its conceivable that Hazem El Masri could have been the first ever player in Australia to score over 3,000 career points.
- Woods, Bill (2007). El Magic: The Life of Hazem El Masri. Pymble, N.S.W: HarperCollins Publishers Australia. ISBN 0-7322-8402-3.
- McDonald, Margie (1 July 2009). "Hazem El Masri's points tally a godsend". The Australian. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
- "El Masri wins league's community service award" (Fee required). AAP Sport News (Australia). 2002-10-03. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- Hazem El Masri at yesterdayshero.com.au
- Hadfield, Dave (21 July 1997). "El Masri's magnificent hat-trick". The Independent (UK: Independent News and Media Limited). Retrieved 2009-12-24.
- Walton, Darren (2002-09-24). "Fans will wonder how Bulldogs stayed on the leash, says Piggins". Sydney Morning Herald, The (Fairfax Digital). Retrieved 2009-09-27.
- Walter, Brad (30 June 2009). "Hazem El Masri announces retirement". Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 29 August 2009.[dead link]
- Sully, Sandra; Bill Woods (2007). El Magic: The life of Hazem El Masri. Australia: HarperCollins. pp. xi. ISBN 978-0-7322-8402-2.
- Rleague.com – El Masri, Hazem
- El Masri to make Origin debut – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
- Massoud, Josh (29 August 2009). "Hazem El Masri set for Lebanon farewell". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
- Read, Brent (2010-05-08). "Kangaroos shine brightest against New Zealand". The Australian (Australia: News Limited). Retrieved 2010-05-11.
Most points in an NRL season