Mason public enemy No.1: Asotasi - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mason public enemy No.1: Asotasi

By Todd Balym 12/03/2008 08:07:31 PM Comments (0)

Souths co-captain Roy Asotasi says Willie Mason places more pressure on his own teammates than his opponents with his outlandish comments.

Asotasi labelled Mason a "walking human headline", setting the scene for an explosive NRL season opener between the Sydney Roosters and Souths on Friday night at ANZ Stadium.

Mason had stoked the fiery rivalry between the two foundation clubs with his "I hate Souths" comment at the Roosters season launch earlier this week and Asotasi added fuel to the debate by sledging his former Bulldogs teammate.

While Asotasi said Mason hadn't made himself a specific target for the Rabbitohs, the Kiwi prop admitted he sometimes wished the Australian Test star kept his opinions private.

"Willie is a walking human headline," said Asotasi.

"I've known him for years, we're still good mates and he likes to speak his mind.

"It probably puts some pressure on the Roosters, not us.

"I've played against him and he's spoken before and he's backed it up. We just have to make sure he doesn't on Friday."

Roosters prop Mark O'Meley, another Bulldogs 2004 premiership winner alongside Mason and Asotasi, said Mason will have plenty of support backing up his comments on Friday night when the NRL's two fiercest rivals kick off the centenary season.

"If Will says that, he can back it up. And his teammates are right behind him anyway," said O'Meley.

Another former Dog-cum-Rooster, five-eighth Braith Anasta, said the war of words between the two camps would not affect the intensity of the clash.

"To tell you the truth, regardless of what Willie said this week the game isn't going to change," he said.

"There is already a strong rivalry there. Willie can say whatever he likes, it's not going to change or affect the game in any way."

Roosters captain Craig Fitzgibbon agreed, adding that all Mason had achieved was to put the pressure on himself to have a blinder on Friday.

"If anything (Mason) has put himself into a position where he has to play well which is good for our team," said Fitzgibbon.

"Sometimes people use (comments) to fire themselves up. That's fine it's their way. Me personally, I think it just gives ammo to the other team.

"In my role as captain I can't be saying inflammatory comments about other teams and certainly not be the one talking it up.

"(But) all those comments seriously go out the window by the time you warm up for the game."

Mason was always going to be public enemy No.1 with Souths and their fans on Friday night.

He has always been one to shoot from the lip and then back it up on the paddock. But nobody will ever forget the 2006 Tri Nations series when Kiwi David Kidwell laid Mason flat out with a shuddering shoulder charge.

Mason claimed he was blindsided by a cheap shot, and fireworks have been expected between the pair ever since.

While Souths officials would love nothing more than to see Kidwell lay Mason flat on his back again on Friday night, Kidwell says the rivalry between he and Mason does not exist.

"I do (wish people would move on), it's a couple of years ago now," said Kidwell.

"I'm a totally different person off the field compared to what I am on the field. It happened and it's part of football.

"I have had a talk to him and bumped into him at a social environment, at a proper time, there's no ill feeling there.

"We both know it's business on the field and it's left on the field."

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