Cross: Mad Dog’s BBQ chook and my NSW dream

During Ben Cross’ eight season NRL career, he met plenty of colourful characters.

But one stands out amongst the pack.

Having spent time at Canberra, Melbourne and of course, Newcastle, Cross said the quirkiest teammate was the man we know as ‘The Mad Dog’.

That’s right. Adam McDougall.

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Stories involving McDougall have become a thing of legend.

From reports of the winger speaking to his legs before a game or some of his training methods, the legend only grows as Cross sits down with the Our Town Our Team podcast.

The most hilarious tale focuses on a trip across the Tasman where a nutritionally focused McDougall smuggled a chicken into New Zealand… or so legend has it.

“We were having a meeting once on the field about punctuality and being on time at training, as Brian Smith was saying it, here comes Doogs (Adam McDougall) walking over the field with his football boots in hand, bare foot,” Cross told the Our Town Our Team podcast.

“Once he reckons, he got to New Zealand with a barbeque chook in his bag because he didn’t like the airplane food, so he smuggled it on there.

“And another time, he reckons he could beat the 10 count when you go in for surgery and before the antiseptic gets you, and he would pride himself on trying to beat the count.

“Plenty of GST on all his stories but always a good laugh.”

Cross, a front rower who made a name for himself at the Canberra Raiders and Melbourne Storm before linking with the Knights in 2008 was a New South Wales State of Origin representative.

An enforcer on the field, Cross led by his actions and quickly became an influential leader and a representative player at the club.

“Newcastle was just a great town that loved their footy players who were willing to put in for the club and the town as well, and that was something I really appreciated,” Cross said.

“I was welcomed by the whole town, the way I played my rugby league was based on wholehearted efforts and wanting to hit hard and put my best foot forward for the Newcastle fans.”

Having made back-to-back grand finals in 06’ and 07’ with the Storm, Cross moved to the Knights in 2008 where he became a Blue.

It was due to his time in the red and blue that he “was able to achieve my life-long dream of playing State of Origin”.

Being an elder statesman at the time and an experienced front-rower, Cross helped nurture some younger forwards into a team that was playing well, finishing the 2009 season in 7th spot, although the side bowed out to the Bulldogs in the first week of the finals.

Upon reflection, it was a period for the Club which should’ve garnered some form of success.

“We had a lot of good young guys coming through at the time, but we probably under-achieved a bit and didn’t get the success we probably should of,” Cross continued.

“I was blessed when I got there, we had players like Danny Buderus, Steve Simpson, Mad Dog (Adam McDougall) was there and Kurt Gidley.

“We had good mix of the former Knights brigade and some good young guys coming through at the time.”