14 Jun 2019

Adam Blair joins exclusive NRL club

10:11 am on 14 June 2019

Veteran Warriors forward Adam Blair is set to join an exclusive club of rugby league players on Friday night.

Warriors enforcer Adam Blair.

Warriors enforcer Adam Blair. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

All going to plan, Blair will become just the third New Zealander to play 300 NRL matches as his team faces the Titans on the Gold Coast.

For a boy from the tiny Northland community of Panguru, it's a milestone he could never have dreamed was possible.

During his almost 14 seasons in the NRL, Blair has been one of the hardest men in one of the world's most brutal sporting competitions.

Forget shying away from them, the 33-year-old thrives on rugby league's bone rattling collisions.

Blair said the matches have flown by since his 2006 NRL debut, adding the unlikely marriage of an all-out playing style with longevity has required just as much off-field effort.

"I was happy to play one game, 10 games, 20 games, 50 games and most probably when I got to 100 I just stopped counting," Blair said.

"I guess it represents consistency and everything you've done on and off the field.

"I'm pretty consistent off the field with what I do and that's most probably given me this opportunity to play 300."

It's a number only two other Kiwis - Ruben Wiki and Simon Mannering - four Warriors and 35 players total have reached.

Adam Blair

Adam Blair in action for the Warriors against the North Queensland Cowboys. Photo: Photosport

While maybe not at this level, Blair said success, and whatever it took to get it, was the only thing on his mind when he left behind everything he'd known and headed for Australia at the age of 16.

"You know, I didn't want to be that person that failed and went away and came back to Panguru and Whangarei and all your mates ask you what happened.

"I guess I'm a competitor and I put a lot of pressure on myself and if it didn't work out over there, I was staying over there anyway, so I didn't have those people asking me the questions."

Blair admits that competitive drive still gets the better of him at times.

But it's something team-mates - first at the Melbourne Storm, then the Wests Tigers and Brisbane Broncos, and now the Warriors - know well.

Warriors playmaker Kodi Nikorima said it's far from the only defining trait of the man who was there when Nikorima made his NRL debut at the Broncos.

"He's always done the right thing off the field for his body and the things that he brings to teams that go unnoticed are just those little things that stats can't tell.

"He's always been big on that and I think that's why you know these coaches sign him and I know Wayne Bennett had big wraps on Blairy and he was actually sad to see Blairy go (from the Broncos)."

Adam Blair on the charge for the Kiwis against Australia.

Adam Blair playing for the New Zealand Kiwis side. Photo: Photosport

After a poor start to the season which saw him dropped to the reserve grade side, Blair has had to draw heavily on those qualities.

But Warriors captain Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, for one, isn't surprised to see the 49-test Kiwis international back in the top team.

"He's put his hand up for a few things but he's back in the side doing his bit.

"But that's him, he fell off the horse but he's back on it and he's trying again and that's him. 300 games, he just turns up and does the little things right," Tuivasa-Sheck said.

Despite the achievement, Blair's focus for the special occasion is where it always is, doing everything he can to help his team win.

There will, though, be a small chance for reflection.

And when he lies down for a moment in the changing rooms - as he does before every match - Blair said he'll be able to take the field for match number 300 with a quiet sense of satisfaction.

"When you look at it, the people that have done it before, it's quite an achievement.

"I'm just really lucky to be able to even play one NRL game and there was some point when I first started off that I wasn't even going to be able to play in the NRL.

"So to be able to get to 300, it's pretty cool."

Even cooler, no doubt, if he can cap the milestone moment with a much needed Warriors win.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs

We have regular online commentary of local and international sport.