A Look Back at Australia’s Muslim Rugby Star

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Hazem El-Masri, top left, with his family.

Possibly the greatest goal-kicker in Australian rugby history, Hazem El-Masri is a now-retired Lebanese-Australian retired professional rugby league footballer who starred in the 1990s and 2000s. An Australia and Lebanon international, and New South Wales State of Origin representative winger, he played his entire club football career with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs with whom he won the 2004 NRL Premiership. In 2009 (his final season in the NRL) El Masri set the record for the highest-ever point scorer in premiership history and for a record sixth time was the league’s top point scorer for the season. He also became only the seventh player in history to score over 150 NRL tries, having primarily played on the wing, and additionally at fullback.

El Masri was born in Tripoli, Lebanon on 1 April 1976 and emigrated to Australia with his family from there in 1988 when he was 12 years old. He began playing soccer at an early age but during his senior years in high school switched to rugby league, joining a local club side, the Enfield Federals. While playing for Belmore Boys High School, in 1994 El Masri was spotted by Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs development officers and was invited to trials for their Jersey Flegg squad. By 1998, El Masri had become a regular in the Bulldogs senior squad. He also went on to captain the Lebanese national rugby team for World Cup play.

El Masri is a self-identified devout Muslim. He is widely respected for his community work with young people, winning the NRL’s Ken Stephen Award in 2002. The award recognizes players who contribute to the betterment of their community away from the rugby league. El Masri has a wife, Arwa, and three children, Lamya, Zayd, and Serine.


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