Ben MacDougall To Take Manly To

Ben MacDougall plans to sue his former National Rugby League club Manly, despite signing a one-year deal with Melbourne.

MacDougall is upset that the Sea Eagles ignored a handshake deal to extend his contract for three years at the end of 2003 and intends to take the dispute to the courts.

Manly officials offered MacDougall a two-year deal then withdrew it and released the centre, severely limiting his options in the market.

"It hasn't been much fun at all," he said today. "If I wasn't stuffed around in the first place then I could have taken other offers and I could've still been in Sydney.

"But in saying that it's a good opportunity down here and I'm looking forward to it."

MacDougall was attracted to the Storm because of coach Craig Bellamy's excellent credentials and the fact he would link with Peter Sharp, who was elbowed out of the Manly coaching job this year before being signed up as an assistant to Bellamy.

With the Storm's lack of depth in the centres this year following the retirement of Aaron Moule, MacDougall is confident of cementing a first grade spot but admitted moving interstate was a little nerve-racking.

"It's pretty daunting going to another state, particularly because the whole culture is completely different," said the 26-year-old, who scored eight tries in 23 appearances for Manly this year.

MacDougall said he thought about joining his brothers Adam and Luke at South Sydney but felt his game would improve more at the Storm, which finished fifth after this year's NRL regular season.

In preparing for next year, MacDougall has the advice of his brother Adam - a former test, NSW and Newcastle player - ringing in his ears.

"I remember my brother saying to me only a couple of years ago that every player starts at the same point every pre-season regardless of what they've done before," MacDougall commented.

"I didn't come here to play reserve grade, I came here to play first grade and hopefully I can do that next year."