MacDougall aims to crack Storm backline - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

MacDougall aims to crack Storm backline

By Melissa Woods 18/01/2008 03:19:26 PM Comments (0)

After three years playing rugby in Scotland before resurrecting his rugby league career with Melbourne, the last place Ben MacDougall thought he'd be desperate to get back to was the United Kingdom.

The 29-year-old has rejoined the NRL premiers, who he left in 2004, and is eyeing a place in their side for the World Club Challenge against Leeds there next month.

Melbourne will only take 21 players to play a warm-up game against Halifax before they face Leeds on February 29, where they will aim to restore some Australian pride with the English club winning all but one club challenge in the past seven years.

The departure of Test back Matt King to play in England has left a vacancy in the Storm's centres, with MacDougall a leading contender to fill it.

He faces some stiff competition from 19-year-old speedster Will Chambers, as well as Anthony Quinn.

"There's a lot of competition, guys like Will Chambers, who were in the system last year and were on the fringes, who are obviously hungry to get a start as well," said MacDougall, the brother of Adam and Luke who play for Newcastle.

"It's not a walk-up thing and it's only early days for me as well, because I haven't played rugby league in three years.

"I've set myself to establish myself in this team but that might take a few more games."

MacDougall described his return to Melbourne as a little "weird", with players like Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman who were only just starting their careers when he left now representing Australia.

Despite his age and with stints at Wests, Newcastle and the Northern Eagles behind him, he felt fresh with his body in excellent shape after three years playing rugby, which culminated in two Test caps for Scotland as well as a tour of South Africa.

"We didn't take pain-killing injections to play and in general you tend to get looked after a lot better.

"Physically I feel as good as I've ever felt."

And he said his mind was also in good shape as he learnt a lot about himself playing rugby in a foreign country, which culminated in two Test caps for Scotland.

"After that there's nothing daunting, I played a new sport I'd only played a bit as a teenager so I had to learn pretty quickly and the pressure of that was immense.

"It instilled in me that I can learn new things at any age and I have a belief that I can improve.

"I feel like I can play better footy than when I left so I'm definitely hoping that it's going to be my best year to date."

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