Sailor and Mad Dog to renew rivalry - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sailor and Mad Dog to renew rivalry

By Todd Balym 04/07/2008 04:32:09 PM Comments (0)

It will be a case of witty one-liners at 100 paces on Saturday as Adam MacDougall and Wendell Sailor renew their famous rivalry, albeit from opposite sides of the field.

The two old-stagers of the NRL come face-to-face for the first time in seven years when MacDougall's Newcastle side host Sailor's new team St George Illawarra at EnergyAustralia Stadium.

But given both are set to play on the right-hand side for their teams, there will be limited chances for the two former combatants to renew hostilities.

"It has been a while since we have locked horns," MacDougall said.

"It would have been fun to be matched up opposite Dell.

"Obviously we will cross paths at some stage during the night.

"If he comes my way, I won't mind tackling him.

"It will be good to have someone out there a little older than me. There are not too many blokes older than me at the moment.

"We have a similar hairstyle, but hopefully I am a bit leaner than Wendell. He is carrying a bit more around the stomach."

Giant Newcastle winger Cooper Vuna is the man likely to confront Sailor, who is making his comeback from a fractured cheekbone, and the man known as `Mad Dog' says the young Kiwi should be ready for an ear bashing.

"If Dell is going all right, there is no doubt Coop will cop a verbal. Let's hope he is not going that well," MacDougall said.

"Hopefully he is sucking in the big ones and doesn't have enough energy to sledge."

Sailor and MacDougall, both 33, used to be one of the most entertaining head-to-head battles in league, squaring off as Queensland and NSW rivals as well as at club level for Brisbane and Newcastle.

But while their on-field rivalry was fiery, their respect and friendship off the field was genuine.

MacDougall regretted Sailor's move to rugby union in 2002 but is happy the former Test star has come back to where he belongs.

"I'm not surprised he came back," MacDougall said.

"Wendell was a fish out of water. He was arguably the greatest winger in rugby league and went to a sport he had never played before.

"He is much better suited to rugby league. I don't think going to rugby did him justice as a rugby league player.

"People probably forgot how great a rugby league player he was."

The return of Sailor to the Dragons lineup will help offset the loss of NSW duo Matt Cooper and Mark Gasnier to injury.

Cooper has knee soreness from Wednesday's State of Origin loss while Gasnier has not overcome a back injury and club officials are adamant he won't be a late starter on Saturday.

The Dragons are riding a six-game winning streak into the clash and another victory will ensure they remain hot on the heels of the top four.

The Knights, meanwhile, have lost their last two and must regain winning momentum now if they're to make a finals charge.

Prop Ben Cross (knee and thumb) is out for six weeks after picking up an injury in Origin, while skipper Danny Buderus will be given as much time as he needs to prove his fitness and Kurt Gidley should have no trouble backing up from NSW duties.

"It is nearly a grand final for us," said MacDougall.

"We have fallen out of the top eight so this game takes on a massive significance for us.

"They are playing with a lot of confidence so we cannot give them a sniff early on.

"We have got to get some of the wind out of the sails."

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