superboot Hazem El Masri only needs one goal – but he has never
kicked in the unfamiliar surrounds of Brookvale Oval.
The man who made his Test debut last year after immigrating from
Tripoli, Lebanon, as a boy needs only one more goal to set a record
for most consecutive conversions in Australian rugby league.
Six more and he will
enter the Guinness Book Of Records.
The men whose marks
he is attempting to surpass are former Bulldogs teammate Daryl
Halligan and former Kiwi rugby league star Henry Paul.
El Masri has already
equalled Halligan's mark of 30 goals in succession and can become
the undisputed champion with one successful conversion against Manly
If he can then
stretch his remarkable run for another five goals he will set a
But he must do so
having declared he will not shirk a difficult conversion no matter
the circumstances while also taking aim on a ground he has never
kicked a goal on before.
haven't played at Brookvale Oval for ages so I have actually never
had the chance to kick a goal there," El Masri said.
"The nerves are
also starting to build up a little after all the hype around it but
I've just been trying to make the week as normal as possible.
"But I am very
aware of the record because everyone keeps on emphasising it so
hopefully someone will score under the posts and make my life
"Now that I'm
equal [with Halligan] it's just a relief. If the records continue to
come from here then that's great. But if not then it just wasn't
meant to be."
El Masri spends up to
two hours a week honing his skills as the NRL's best marksman at the
Bulldogs' two home grounds, Telstra Stadium and Sydney Showground.
He credits his
remarkable accuracy to his 10-year stint playing soccer as a
youngster after his parents moved to Sydney from Lebanon.
"Thank god I was
kicking from a young age. I played soccer for 10 years and had all
the co-ordination and everything going for me," El Masri said.
The Bulldogs flyer
also has a host of other records this season in his sights,
including Mick Cronin's 123 goals in a season and Ivan Cleary's 284
points in the one year.
At the moment El
Masri has piloted 101 goals between the uprights this year and has
230 points at an average of 11 a game.
El Masri yesterday
walked The Daily Telegraph through his meticulous routine ahead of
PLACING THE BALL
The Bulldogs winger
likes to take his time adjusting the ball to the correct angle,
which depends on exactly whereabouts you are lining the goal up from
on the field.
"With a kick
from the sideline you have to make sure you follow through the whole
"It's not about
just going in there and bashing the ball, anyone can do that."
El Masri believes the
wind factor can be crucial to the outcome of a conversion. He said
he almost always checks the swirl on a windy day by picking up some
loose grass and tossing it into the air.
just have to aim for something and being a right footer you know the
ball is going to curve a little from right to left.
"So that's what
I always aim at. That right post and get the ball to come around a