The Masked Singer

EXCLUSIVE: Why ex-footy star Wendell Sailor says he's grateful for his "second chance"

''Sometimes you don't appreciate what you've got until its gone.''

By Anita Lyons
Australian sporting legend Wendell Sailor was the fourth celebrity unveiled on The Masked Singer, much to the delight of the guessing panel.
Jackie O, along with Lindsay Lohan and Dave Hughes, all picked the rugby great as being the man behind the Rhino, with Jackie recognising his dance moves immediately.
Australia backed the Rhino from week one due to his effervescent energy and killer dance moves, but it was his revelation about why he signed onto the show that had fans melting over the gentle giant.
"That was one of the hardest things I've ever done," Wendell told the panel after his reveal.
"You're just out of your comfort zone. Like, I'd rather play an Origin or Bledisloe or a Grand Final," he said.
After revealing that he was claustrophobic and talking about his "night club dancing", which always got him into trouble, Wendell admitted that his children were the reason for going on the show.
"I did it for you kids," he said, speaking out to the camera. "I did my best, but do you know what? Dad's a winner anyway!"
Rugby legend, Wendell Sailor, was revealed as The Rhino! (Source: Network Ten/Getty Images)
In an interview with Now to Love after the big unveiling, Wendell said that his kids always "backed him", especially when it came to his "suspension back in the day".
"I've had a lot of adversity through my career and my kids have always been really strong, and I've not always made the right choice, but they've always backed me to do the right thing," he said.
"There's a lot that goes to it," the 45-year-old said. "You know, there were the party boy ways and sometimes you don't appreciate what you've got until it's gone. I nearly lost it, so for me, I know the kids give me heaps sometimes, but I know they're really proud of me going in."
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Wendell's two eldest kids, Tristan, 21, and Matisse, 16, were two of the only few people that knew their dad was heading on to the main stage.
"The kids are at that age, and our family manages our brand," he said. "So I just thought, me going away all week and for long periods of time, they needed to know what I was doing. We told them that absolutely nothing could be said and that it was confidential, but the kids are great and they couldn't wait to see it!"
As for Wendell's wife, Tara, she was the one that convinced him to do the show.
"I actually said no twice," Wendell revealed. "And the third time, I went, you know what, it's a 'yes from me'."
"My wife was the one that said to me, 'babe, I think you could really do this. She knows I'm not probably the greatest singer, but she goes, 'you'll go really well' and convinced me to do it."
When it comes to his time on the show, Wendell has no regrets.
"I've always loved entertainment," he said. "I've always loved radio and TV and I reckon that I'm still recognised a couple of years out of the game because I kept doing things outside of footy.
"People will give you a second chance if you've earned that right," he said.
Wendell Sailor's footy career ended when he was suspended for failing a drug test in 2006. (Source: Getty Images)
In 2006, Wendell failed a drugs test, receiving a two-year suspension from all forms of rugby.
Afterwards, his contract with the Australian Rugby Union was terminated, ending his rugby union career.
If he could give advice to himself back then, Wendell said he'd say to "appreciate and respect the opportunities that you've been given."
"I came in at 18 and I was very lucky to be a part of some good football teams, something that I loved doing and when that was taken away from me, it was hard. It was a roller coaster."