Joey praises points machine El Masri - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Joey praises points machine El Masri

By Todd Balym 11/03/2009 06:51:42 PM Comments (0)

Rugby league's greatest pointscorer Andrew Johns praised Hazem El Masri for taking the game to a new level as the Bulldogs winger prepares to snatch his coveted record.

El Masri is just six points shy of equalling Johns on 2176 career points and, with an average of almost 10 points per game in his career, he is likely to achieve the milestone in Saturday's clash with Manly at ANZ Stadium.

The Bulldogs have prepared fireworks, memorabilia and other festivities to coincide with the Lebanese born winger's achievements when he finally becomes league's highest pointscorer.

Johns, who retired in 2007, said El Masri's perfection of the goalkicking art had pushed him in his own career as a sharpshooter.

"I respect Hazem as a player and for the way he holds himself off the field. He is a one club man and I have been in awe of him as a goalkicker," said Johns on Wednesday.

"It's mixed emotions. It's a nice record to have. But what a man to lose it to."

Johns said he rated El Masri as one of the two greatest kickers he has seen, alongside former Bulldog and the man El Masri replaced in the role at the club, Daryl Halligan.

"I cannot split Hazem and Daryl (Halligan). I don't know what the stats say," he said.

"Hazem has taken it to a another level."

El Masri, who is also just nine games shy of becoming the 12th league player in history to reach 300 games, said he was excited by the prospect of surpassing Johns.

"I'm sad in a way, I have looked up to Joey," said El Masri.

"I think I'm dedicated to what I do. When I do something I like to perfect it."

Ironically, El Masri's favourite conversion of all time was the kick after the siren at Newcastle's home ground several years ago to defeat the Knights.

El Masri said he had watched Johns nail a conversion from the same position earlier in the game and noted how the Knights star allowed for more than normal wind assistance to get the ball between the posts.

"I knew he was going to nail it," recalled Johns.

"He does not miss."

That conversion, along with his match-winning try in the 2004 grand final and his flawless performance in his one and only NSW Origin appearance in 2007 are El Masri's career highlights.

But he is hopeful of adding another to that list this weekend.

"Probably to win the game and break the record at the same time would be a nice way to get it," he said.

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