Wendell Sailor lifts lid on Dragons’ ‘disgusting’ treatment of son Tristan


Cross-code international Wendell Sailor has savaged his former club St George Illawarra over the club’s treatment of his son Tristan.

Wendell was one of the NRL’s most damaging wingers early in his career, tallying 17 games for Queensland, 22 matches for the Kangaroos and 189 games for the Brisbane Broncos.

He then crossed codes, playing 37 Tests for the Wallabies, before a drug ban for testing positive to cocaine ended his time in rugby union.

After a two-year ban, Sailor returned to rugby league, ending his career with the Red V.

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Tristan grew up in the Red V and broke into the NRL in 2019, debuting a day after his 21st birthday.

But the electric back struggled to hang onto a place in the Dragons’ top side, Sailor was unceremoniously dumped at the end of the 2020 season after just five games for the team, told he was no longer needed a week before the end of the season.

A fortnight later, Sailor was charged with sexual assault, but was found not guilty in 2022.

It saw Sailor attempt to rebuild his life and rugby league career, making a move to Brisbane.

Although he’s only played five matches after being largely stuck behind superstar fullback Reece Walsh, Sailor has been outstanding every time he’s hand a chance to understudy for Queensland No. 1.

It hasn’t stopped his father from fuming over the treatment Tristan faced at St George Illawarra.

“The way Tristan got treated at the Dragons was disgusting,” Wendell said via The Courier Mail.

“To be honest, it wasn’t just Tristan who got treated poorly.

“Other Dragons kids have been let go … the culture of the club hasn’t been good since Wayne (Bennett) left.”

At the time, Sailor appeared to be the perfect replacement for the then out-of-form Corey Norman, but was instead let go.

Sailor was stood down by the NRL during his court case under the controversial No Fault Stand Down policy until he was found not guilty of sexual assault.

“Tristan loved the Dragons more than me,” Wendell said.

“They picked Corey Norman and that’s fine, I understood that, but Tristan went from starting, to the bench, to 18th man, to No. 21 and 22 and out of the squad with no reason at all as to why.

“Then before a game against the Storm – their last game of the (2020) season – a Dragons official walks up to Tristan and says, ‘Thanks for your service, we no longer need you at this club, we’re going in a different direction’.

“Seriously, what a joke.

“Tell Tristan three months earlier to give him a chance to find another club.

“This is a kid who had been at the Dragons since he was 13.

“I had other Dragons players calling me saying what a joke it was. And despite that, Tristan was still doing extras at training.

“I’m no longer upset because Tristan has learned to forgive and forget, so I’ve had to as well, but that summed up the Dragons and how they do business.

“Wayne Bennett would never treat a player like that.

“They just threw him out the backdoor.”

While Tristan had been angling for an exit before the season began as offers came in from the UK Super League, a request that was denied by the club, Wendell said he has “never seen him happier” than at the Broncos.

Late last month, Wendell told Triple M Brisbane’s Marto, Margaux and Dan Tristan was more than happy to stay at the Broncos.

“He had an opportunity to go to Leigh on a three-year deal but he wanted to stay at the Broncos because he believes he can tie down the No. 14 spot,” Sailor said.

“I said ‘Trist, if you wanted to why don’t you go to the Super League for a year and the maybe come back because I’ve got to tell you, Reece Walsh and Selwyn Cobbo, you’re not going to get a go there son’.

“He said ‘Dad I feel real comfortable at the Broncos and I’m going to back myself’.”

Broncos legend Darren Lockyer said he believed the No. 14 jersey would be a “shootout between Sailor and Corey Oates” on WWOS’ QLDER.

“Tristan can play fullback but he can also play in the halves, so he reads the game very well,” Lockyer said.

“It’s a credit to him, because he’s had to start all over again and work his way back into the system. He’s doing it behind someone like Reece Walsh, but he’s kept his head up and is playing some great football.”

Phil Gould also warned Sailor not to take just any vacant position on an NRL roster if he does want to make a No. 1 jersey his own.

“Every club’s got players like this – they are not going to get any better playing state league. The problem is spots in the NRL are so hard, it’s so hard to make it,” Gould told Six Tackles with Gus.

“And when he’s playing at a strong club like the Broncos, where he’s only going to get a run every now and then, there are advantages to that but there are disadvantages to that.

“If Tristan Sailor was to go and play fullback full time, that might be with a club that’s down the bottom of the ladder and conceding 30 points on average a week, and he’s not going to develop into the player he needs to be.”