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Hazem El Masri (Arabic: حازم المصري‎; born 1 April 1976) is a Lebanese Australian former professional rugby league footballer who played as a winger in the 1990s and 2000s. An international representative for Australia and Lebanon, and a New South Wales State of Origin representative goal-kicking wing, he played his entire club football career in Sydney with the Bulldogs with whom he won the 2004 NRL Premiership. 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 NRL'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.

Hazem El Masri
Hazem el Magic.jpg
Personal information
Born (1976-04-01) 1 April 1976 (age 43)
Tripoli, Lebanon
Playing information
Height178 cm (5 ft 10 in)[1]
Weight86–90 kg (13 st 8 lb–14 st 2 lb)[1][2]
PositionWing, Fullback
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1996–09 Canterbury Bulldogs 324 168 895 0 2462
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1999–03 Lebanon 8 12 44 0 136
2001–07 City NSW 5 1 14 0 32
2002 Australia 1 0 4 0 8
2007 New South Wales 1 1 3 0 10
Source: [3]

El Masri is a self-identified devout Muslim.[4] 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.[5]

El Masri, widely regarded as the greatest goalkicker ever seen on a rugby league field, scored the second most points (2,418) by any player in NRL history.[6]

BackgroundEdit

El Masri was born in Tripoli, Lebanon on 1 April 1976 to ethnic Lebanese parents, Khaled and Amal.[7] He emigrated to Australia with his family from there in 1988 when he was 12 years old.[4] He began playing soccer at an early age but during his senior years in high school switched to rugby league, joining a local club, the Enfield Federals. 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 elevated to the President's Cup squad.

Playing careerEdit

1990sEdit

El Masri debuted in the Sydney Bulldogs' first grade team during the 1996 ARL season. He was not the first choice goal-kicker at the Bulldogs initially as 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.[8]

El Masri had become a regular member of the Bulldogs squad by the 1998 NRL season. Although his side reached the 1998 NRL Grand Final, he did not play in Canterbury's loss to the Broncos.

In 1999, El Masri made his debut for Lebanon in a Mediterranean Cup game against Morocco. In this match he scored a total of 48 points, the highest number of points ever scored by one player in an international match.[citation needed]

2000sEdit

The Lebanon nation side qualified for their first ever World Cup in 2000 and El Masri captained the side. He played in all three of Lebanon's World Cup games. He played in his country's first ever World Cup Match against New Zealand, which they lost 64–0. He scored a try and kicked three goals in their 24–22 loss to Wales. He scored two tries and kicked three goals in their 22–22 draw against the Cook Islands. At the end of the group stage, Lebanon finished on one point and did not advance to the knockout stage. At the end of the World Cup his stats were three tries and six goals for 24 points for Lebanon. His brother, Samer El Masri, also played for Lebanon. El Masri later played for the New South Wales representative side in 2001 and would go on to appear 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.[9] 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 playing for the Bulldogs in 2004.

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.[10] He then played for the Bulldogs on the wing[2] 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 set the Canterbury-Bankstown club's career points record, surpassing Daryl Halligan during the 2005 NRL season.

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.[11]

El Masri broke the 1,900-point record after scoring 14 points in Round 8 of the 2007 NRL season 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 for New South Wales after Jamie Lyon was ruled out through injury.[12] 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 in 2009

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 15 May 2009, El Masri played his 300th game in the Bulldogs 20–18 loss to the Dragons at Win Jubilee Stadium. He was the first Bulldog play to reach the 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.[10] 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.[13] El Masri considered accepting this invitation but found himself unable to do so.[14]

With El Masri setting the NRL career point scoring record of 2,418[15] points in 317 games (159 tries, 891/1087 goals at 81.97%).

Personal lifeEdit

In 2000, El Masri married a Saudi Arabian-born Palestinian woman, Arwa Abousamra. They have three children.[citation needed]

El Masri is a devout Muslim.[16] 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.[17]

Post-playingEdit

After his retirement, El Masri made an appearance, kicking a goal, in the opening ceremony of Melbourne's new AAMI Park before the 2010 ANZAC Test.[18] El Masri was approached to stand as the Liberal candidate for the seat of Lakemba at the 2011 state election.[19] El Masri and his wife split in early 2014.[20] He subsequently remarried. He was a White Ribbon Day ambassador. In October 2015, he was charged by New South Wales Police with assaulting his second wife and causing bodily harm.[21] In early 2016 the charge was later dropped by police. In 2017, it was reported he and his first wife, Arwa had remarried.[22]

ReferencesEdit

  • Woods, Bill (2007). El Magic: The Life of Hazem El Masri. Pymble, N.S.W: HarperCollins Publishers Australia. ISBN 0-7322-8402-3.

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Hazem El Masri". thebulldogs.com.au. Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  2. ^ a b AAP (1 October 2004). "Grand Final pen pics". One News. TVNZ. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
  3. ^ Rugby League Project
  4. ^ a b McDonald, Margie (1 July 2009). "Hazem El Masri's points tally a godsend". The Australian. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
  5. ^ Unknown, Western Sydney University -. "Hazem El Masri, former professional Rugby League player with the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs". www.uws.edu.au. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  6. ^ "'It's the toughest thing I've been through in my life'". NewsComAu. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  7. ^ Hazem El Masri Archived 14 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine at yesterdayshero.com.au
  8. ^ Hadfield, Dave (21 July 1997). "El Masri's magnificent hat-trick". The Independent. UK: Independent News and Media Limited. Retrieved 24 December 2009.
  9. ^ Walton, Darren (24 September 2002). "Fans will wonder how Bulldogs stayed on the leash, says Piggins". Sydney Morning Herald, The. Fairfax Digital. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  10. ^ a b Walter, Brad (30 June 2009). "Hazem El Masri announces retirement". Fairfax Digital. Archived from the original on 21 September 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
  11. ^ Rleague.com – El Masri, Hazem Archived 12 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ El Masri to make Origin debut – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
  13. ^ Massoud, Josh (29 August 2009). "Hazem El Masri set for Lebanon farewell". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 August 2009.
  14. ^ http://english.aljazeera.net/sport/2009/10/2009109205952297181.html
  15. ^ Kane, Stephen (2013). A Statistical History of Rugby League. Australia: Xlibris Corporation. p. 212.[self-published source]
  16. ^ Michael Winkler (22 March 2012). "6 famously devout NRL players". Sports Fan.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 February 2015.
  17. ^ Sully, Sandra; Bill Woods (2007). El Magic: The life of Hazem El Masri. Australia: HarperCollins. pp. xi. ISBN 978-0-7322-8402-2.
  18. ^ Read, Brent (8 May 2010). "Kangaroos shine brightest against New Zealand". The Australian. Australia: News Limited. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  19. ^ http://news.brisbanetimes.com.au/breaking-news-national/el-masri-wanted-as-liberal-candidate-20091023-hbnn.html
  20. ^ "Former Canterbury Bulldog Hazem El Masri and wife split". Spotal. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  21. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3280230/Hazem-El-Masri-charged-alleged-domestic-violence-offences-against-wife.html Rugby league legend and White Ribbon Day ambassador Hazem El-Masri is charged with assaulting his new wife 'causing actual bodily harm'
  22. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/canterbury-bulldogs-legend-hazem-el-masri-reunites-with-first-wife-arwa-20170526-gwe2s9.html

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Ivan Cleary
1998–2004
Record-holder
Most points in an NRL season

2004–present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Andrew Johns
2009
Record-holder
Most points in an NRL career

2009 (2,177) – 2019 (2,418)
Succeeded by
Cameron Smith
2019