Sailor thrives on a famous legacy
A famous surname will not be a burden to Tristan Sailor as he vows to keep embracing the expectation he has lived with, rather than be overwhelmed by it.
The versatile 19-year-old back is signed to the Dragons until the end of 2019, the club where his father Wendell finished his illustrious career.
The two are chalk and cheese on the footy field, with the silky-skilled Tristan keen to secure a career in the halves.
Tristan stands at 177cm and weighs 80kg. Big Dell is 191cm, and when he terrorised opponents in his playing days he weighed in at around 105kg.
One thing’s for sure though, Sailor won’t be weighed down by the pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“There is pressure that comes with it, but rather than crumbling under it I like to thrive on it and [use it to] motivate me to forge my own path and become the best player I can be,” Sailor told NRL.com while in camp with the Queensland under 20s side.
“For me, it is just about training and working hard and getting there on your own.
“Once you get to this stage you have to then take the opportunity and show them what you can do and then I think all that pressure will go away.
“I am more a skilled player, rather than a power player like [Wendell].
“When I was young he taught me the skills but I have gone off on my own, and playing halves and fullback is a bit different to what he was doing.”
Sailor said his father had been a major influence in helping him understand what it meant to play for Queensland, and in assisting him learn the basics.
“When I was young I got to work on the basic fundamentals with him like catching and passing,” Sailor said.
“Growing up around the Queensland culture you knew what was expected of you.
“Because dad was always around it and going into Origin sheds I got to know them and look up to them.
“Through that winning streak for the Maroons we’d go into the sheds and Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith were really good to me and made me feel a part of the culture straight away.”
Queensland under 20s coach Justin Hodges played Sailor on the wing in Queensland’s 30-16 loss to NSW last year but agreed his future was elsewhere.
“Tristan has a lot of speed like his old man and although he is not as big he’s got better skills than his dad, and that is no disrespect to Dell,” Hodges said.
“Dell used his speed and size to beat players, but Tristan has vision and he can ball play. He is special in that way and just a very good athlete.”
Sailor said he felt privileged to be coached in the under 20s camp by Hodges and his assistants Scott Prince and Lote Tuqiri, all former team-mates of his father at the Brisbane Broncos.
It is the best halves in the game, two of whom he trains with at the Dragons, whose advice is also proving invaluable.
“I am trying to develop those skills here in Queensland camp with guys like Princey, and back at club with Gareth Widdop and Ben Hunt,” Sailor said.
“I’ve really noted their professionalism as international players coming back from the World Cup, and just things like running lines and the way they talk to the team makes it great to learn from them.
“I am a bit of a utility and play anywhere in the backs really. For Queensland you play anywhere that they need you, which is part of the culture.
“But I am looking more in the halves now and I have been speaking to Mary [ Dragons coach Paul McGregor] and he thinks that is the best place for me to develop.”