Dragons X-Factor: Wendell Sailor

The sight of Wendell Sailor running the ball in his prime is enough to strike fear into the most hardened defender. Bumping and buffeting at pace, leaving a trail of defenders in his wake, the big man was a sight to behold.<br><br>In 2008 Sailor wasn’t at the peak of his fitness. Two years out of the game after returning a positive drug test for cocaine, ‘The Dell’ showed glimpses of his previous form without delivering consistently.<br><br>This year a fitter Sailor is starting the Dragons first round match on the wing, is once again under coach Wayne Bennett and is in the same side as former Bronco Luke Priddis, who played when they won the 2000 premiership.<br><br>In 2009 Wendell is looking to recapture the form that earned him Origin, Test and premiership honours, despite questioning his decision to continue playing in the pre-season.<br><br>“It’s my first, opening round game since 2001 in the NRL and since 2006 overall. It’s been three years and they have been long couple of years but I’m pretty excited to be here and pretty excited to get the start<br><br>“It has been tough, to date especially because I’m 34 but Wayne has come here laying his foundations for a new club and the camp we had at Nowra nearly broke me. <br><br>“I had second thoughts on that camp a couple of times about whether I wanted to give up or whether I really wanted to be here so I’m happy now that I’m here.”<br><br>Another who is happy that the big winger is still around is Dragons centre Matt Cooper who thinks we could see some classic performances from Sailor in 2009.<br><br>“Wendell’s had a great pre-season. He has been here from day one back in November and has put in a lot of hard work. He is one of the old dogs now and is showing the young blokes how to train,” said Cooper<br><br>“He is actually the second quickest man at the club (over 40 metres) and he has dropped a lot of fat.<br><br>“We could see some vintage Wendell Sailor performances this year. Wendell’s worked hard and deserves it after coming back from a rough patch a couple of years ago.”<br><br>While the Dragons impressed in their trials, with the exception of their Charity Shield loss to South Sydney, the big fella failed to cross the try line and he plans on rectifying that as soon as possible by setting up a powerful combination with centre Chase Stanley.<br><br>“I’d like to score. I haven’t scored so far in the trials and the boys did score a few tries, running off blokes like Darius Boyd and playing off Coops last year was enjoyable. Hopefully I can get a few off Chase Stanley. I’m quietly confident I can score a few tries.<br><br>“Chase and I are quite new in our partnership. Obviously it’s the old bull and the young bull out there but we have quite a good understanding. He seems to take the ball a lot more than a catch and pass but he backs his ability which I like in a young centre but in defence we just have to talk a bit more because our communication at the moment is probably not what it should be.”<br><br>While Sailor is adamant the Dragons can be a force this season he also knows they need to rid themselves of the tag of being slow starters.<br><br>“You could pick any one of 22 players to be in this team. The guys there are really fortunate; the guys who missed out will probably get a chance later in the season.<br>We need to deliver early. Over the years the Dragons haven’t started well and I want to win a couple of games early in the season.”<br><br>Should Sailor and the Dragons hit top form, the red and white army could be in for one hell of a ride in ’09.