Dogs not fazed by El Masri's goodbyes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Dogs not fazed by El Masri's goodbyes

By Steve Jancetic 29/08/2009 10:03:32 AM Comments (0)

Amid all the hoopla surrounding Hazem El Masri's farewell at ANZ Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Bulldogs coach Kevin Moore says his players are fully aware they still have two NRL competition points to play for.

The Bulldogs have a host of activities and ceremonies planned around their clash with the Warriors to mark the final regular season home game for their retiring winger, but with the race for the minor premiership still wide open, Moore is adamant is team will stay focused.

"I don't see that as a problem. All the players because of the respect they have for Haz - they're excited about the fact the club is making a big thing out of his last home game," Moore said.

"The day itself is a celebration of Hazem and his career at the club, but when the whistle blows on Sunday afternoon we've got a job to do and we'll certainly be aiming to do that."

The Bulldogs are hopeful of attracting a crowd in excess of 40,000, with children under 15 as well as all ticketed members of every NRL club to be admitted free of charge as they celebrate the feats of the NRL's all time leading pointscorer.

There are also plans for a massive group photo after the match involving El Masri, with fans to be permitted on the ANZ Stadium playing surface to take part in the post-match celebrations.

"It's going to be mixed emotions," El Masri said.

"I'm happy in a way and sad in a way. I couldn't ask for any better send-off.

But having worked so hard to draw level with ladder-leaders St George Illawarra on 36 competition points with two rounds remaining, the Bulldogs are wary about taking their eyes off the big prize.

A top-two finish and guaranteed second chance in the first week of the finals is still not confirmed, though a victory over the Warriors - who will be without skipper Steve Price and Kiwi Tests backrower Simon Mannering due to injury - will go a long way to confirming that.

The Bulldogs are expected to be at full strength for the match, with five-eighth Ben Roberts having overcome a calf injury.

Moore believes the festivities surrounding El Masri's farewell will make it easier for the side to keep focused during the finals, denying there was 'do it for Haz' mentality amongst his group.

"The team's performance itself is about the team and Haz has always been about the team and the club," Moore said.

"We'll soldier on and keep doing our best to get the right result come the back end of the year and if at the back end we've got the result we've been looking for, the fact that it's been in Haz's last year will be just a bonus for us."

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