MacDougall vows to shut Inglis down

Veteran Newcastle centre Adam MacDougall has taken it upon himself to silence Melbourne’s brilliant match-winner Greg Inglis as the Knights look to continue their impressive start to the season at EnergyAustralia Stadium tomorrow night.<br><br>Famous for his duals with former Queensland and Australian Test winger Wendell Sailor, MacDougall said he was keen to make a statement against the man widely acknowledged as the most damaging centre in the NRL.<br><br>“He has been touted as the best centre in the world for a long time, but I’ve played him a few times now and we’ve had some great battles,” said MacDougall, who is playing his first game of the season after missing last week’s win over the Bulldogs with injury.<br><br>“I’m not going to have a lot of time to acclimatise this weekend playing against Greg Inglis and Melbourne in my first game back, but that’s what you play footy for. <br><br>“It’s a challenge but that’s what it’s all about.&nbsp; These are the players you want to play against.<br><br>“The key for us is for everyone to do their job and for me that means limiting the opportunities Greg has out wide.”<br><br>However, MacDougall said the Knights would have to perform far better than they did against the Bulldogs last week if they wanted to continue their winning start to the year.<br><br>Melbourne have been rocked by injury in the off-season, with back-rower Ryan Hoffman the latest to join the casualty ward after injuring his shoulder against Cronulla last week, but MacDougall said they remained the most dangerous side in the Telstra Premiership.<br><br>“The last thing you do when you play Melbourne is worry about one particular guy because they all do their job so well,” he said. <br><br>“The beauty of playing in the position that Greg and I play is that a lot of your success lies in what happens inside you off the football, and they’ve got so much class in Cameron Smith and Billy Slater – Cooper Cronk and Ryan Hoffman when they’re there. <br><br>“They all run such great lines, so when Greg gets the ball your head is already spinning. <br><br>“He is a great player and he is blessed to play alongside so many great players. <br><br>“That’s pretty scary because he is a bloody good player in his own right.”<br><br>Melbourne head into tomorrow night’s clash as firm favourites against a Newcastle side still missing captain Kurt Gidley, but already the Knights have shown that they aren’t the easy-beats many predicted them to be.<br><br>The club was rocked in the pre-season by drugs charges laid by police against forwards Danny Wicks and Chris Houston. But MacDougall said the sudden groundswell against the Knights in premiership betting made no sense.<br><br>“It’s very strange,” he said. “People probably don’t realise how many hours of preparation go into preparing each week for a game of football. <br><br>“The amount of months that we’ve put in that accumulated to that performance on the weekend – we started training in late October/early November and whilst there have been some distractions off the field, the physical work has been done on the field.<br><br>“The thing about Newcastle this year is that we’ve got a team that has been together for three or four seasons. <br><br>“We haven’t got a big-name team but we’ve got a very coherent side and a team that’s been together for a long period of time. <br><br>“Our strength lies in our unity and the cohesion we’ve developed over time.”<br><br>Asked what effect the loss of Wicks and Houston had on the squad, MacDougall said players had learnt long ago how to move on.<br><br>“At the end of the day, most of what happens throughout a football season ends up as fish and chip paper,” he said. <br><br>“There is going to be another issue next week that will take the focus off what happened last week. That’s just life – and football. <br><br>“We’re paid to play football and we’re paid to get two points every weekend.”<br><br>MacDougall is lining up for his 16th season in the NRL – having debuted way back in 1995 – and said he was feeling better than ever despite being rested last weekend.<br><br>“I was willing to play but they erred on the side of caution because I had a bruise on my leg from training,” he said. <br><br>“It’s probably best to take that week to make sure I hit the ground at 100 per cent. <br><br>“But I’ve had a great off-season – it’s probably the longest off-season I’ve ever had. I started back in October in an army camp, which was the first army camp I’ve ever had, too. <br><br>“It’s been a terribly long off-season and the hardest one I’ve ever done so I’m really looking forward to getting a few games under my belt.”