1 Aug 2011

Lure of finals footy keeps Mad Dog motivated

7:38 am on 1 August 2011

The Newcastle veteran Adam MacDougall revealed he only decided to play on this NRL season because of the prospect of finals football.

The 36-year-old has endured one of the toughest years of his life, following the passing of his father and a long run of injuries and infection which has restricted him to just two matches in the past four months.

But his stoic effort in Sunday's 50-20 victory over Gold Coast showed the `Mad Dog' still has some tricks.

In a heart-to-heart chat with Knights coach Rick Stone earlier in the season, MacDougall decided to play on in the hope he could receive a fitting farewell in the NRL finals after 17 seasons in the game.

Newcastle's smashing of the Titans opened up a four point gap on chasing teams Penrith, Canterbury and South Sydney - and it seems MacDougall will get his wish to farewell rugby league in the playoffs.

Despite running on old legs and having scarcely played this season, MacDougall wound back the clock to score a bulldozing try and pop a superb flick pass for winger Akuila Uate to score his third.

With the smell of finals football in the air, MacDougall says he never had doubts about his capabilities after he was a late call-up into the Knights side.

Stone said he expects MacDougall to now play out the rest of the season.

Captain Kurt Gidley said MacDougall's famous self-confidence was back at just the right time.