Wendell Jermaine Sailor
- 773Wallaby Number
Wendell Sailor was both an indigenous Torres Strait Islander and a larger than life figure who along with Lote Tuqiri became one of the highest profile rugby league converts of all-time. A superb athlete with a magnificent build, he weighed 106 kgs and stood 191 cms tall, Sailor had the unique ability to run powerfully at express pace. Sailor was born at Sarina in central Queensland and as a young man played rugby league. He was then fortunate to find himself at the Brisbane Broncos under the tutelage of coaching guru Wayne Bennett and thrived in the environment. He spent nine seasons with the Broncos, scored 110 tries in 189 first grade games, represented Queensland in State of Origin and played for Australia.
In 2001, Sailor rocked the rugby league world when it was announced he had agreed to switch to rugby union. He debuted for Queensland later that year and then played every match of the 2002 Super Rugby season. Initially his positional play and kicking were criticised however he surprised with his play at the breakdown, particularly his ability to present the ball back in the tackle. Just a few months later, Sailor made his Test debut against France in Melbourne. He won a spot in the 2003 Rugby World Cup squad and scored the opening try of the tournament against Argentina. In 2006, Sailor was found guilty of taking a prohibited substance and suspended for two years. Wendell Sailor played 37 Tests for Australia and scored 13 tries over the course of his four-year international rugby career.
Sailor won his first Test cap at right wing in the 1st Test, 29-17 victory over France in Melbourne. He scored his first Test try in the 31-32 loss to England at Twickenham. Sailor played six Tests in his first season of international rugby.
Sailor started on the right wing in all bar one of the Wallabies’ 14 Tests. He won selection to his first Rugby World Cup and was in the run-on XV for the final against England alongside fellow rugby league converts Mat Rogers and Lote Tuqiri.
Sailor started the first two Tests of the year but broke down with a severe hamstring strain in the warm-up prior to one-off Test against England in Brisbane. He played a total of nine Tests although six of the final seven were won off the bench.
Sailor played in the opening six Tests but missed the back half of the Tri-Nations due to a knee injury. He returned for the Spring Tour and picked up the final three caps of his career, against France, Ireland and Wales.