General Very good article on Hazem!!


Reluctant hero

By Iain Payten and Josh Massoud

Out of the spotlight...Bulldogs star Hazem El Masri. / The Daily Telegraph

September 22, 2006 12:00

APART from when he's standing over a kick and the world has disappeared anyway, Hazem El Masri doesn't want the spotlight.

He is the NRL's most reluctant – and humble – hero. So it's little wonder on the eve of a ground-breaking achievement, El Masri has yet again refused to bathe in a fraction of the limelight he deserves.

When El Masri jogs on to Aussie Stadium tonight, he will become just the second Bulldogs player to notch up 300 games for the Canterbury club.

Current Dogs coach Steve Folkes is the only other man to have served Belmore for as long, with 313 games.

So highly is El Masri's milestone regarded the club wanted to mark it with a presentation this evening and give the 30-year-old a commemorative jersey during halftime of Premier League.

But El Masri wouldn't have a bar of it. He refused the fuss, saying it was more important the focus was on a team performance than an individual ticking just one more match off.

And Folkes even asked El Masri if he would lead the side on to the field, with captain Andrew Ryan following. Back came the same answer from El Masri: 'Thanks, but no thanks'.

"I'm obviously aware of the 300 game mark this week," El Masri said.

"But at the moment it's more important to focus on what I have to do as an individual and as part of the team.

"This week I'm just trying to focus on making sure I'm prepared for the game. I think reaching certain milestones don't really sink in until the end of the year."

In comparing El Masri and Folkes, there are few similarities aside from a general reluctance to indulge in hyperbole or, God forbid, self-platitude.

But there is no doubt their shared longevity comes from a mirror-image dedication and fierce commitment to the Bulldogs.

"He is pretty humble Haz," says Folkes. "It's a fantastic achievement, to last this long in a game that's probably the toughest sport in the world.

"He looks after himself. He doesn't smoke or drink. He gets straight on to his injuries and makes sure that if he has one, he works 100 per cent at everything."

Though one was a second-rower cast in iron and the other is a flighty winger, Folkes concedes the vital importance of El Masri to his side.

"He is important to our team. Defensively, if the ball goes out to the right you know Haz is there.

"The high ball he is fantastic, and that's not to mention his goalkicking or his try scoring ability," Folkes says.

El Masri finished this season with yet another highest point-scorer trophy, and needs just 12 points to pass the impossibly high 300-point barrier.

And then? Well, no doubt "El Magic" will be around for some time yet, slipping in and out of the public eye to do what he does best: win games for the Bulldogs.

Or will he?

"A couple of people at the club have joked that its just Folkesy ahead of me on the list of Club games and he'll probably stop picking me for games when I get closer to his 313 mark," El Masri laughs.

Not likely.


Hazem is my hero!!!!!!!!!!

I love him!!!!!!..he rocks his lebo socks!!!!!!!!
I love how he is so freaking humble.


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