Warriors captain Ryan Hoffman has defended Brisbane forward and Kiwis international Adam Blair's rugged style of play, saying he would never intentionally try to hurt another player.
Ahead of tomorrow's crucial NRL clash against last year's grand finalists at Mt Smart Stadium, Hoffman came out in support of his former Melbourne Storm teammate and expressed his admiration for Blair's take-no-prisoners playing style.
"Adam plays hard," said Hoffman.
"I played with Blairy for a very long time and known him from when he was a really young kid.
"He's never trying to hurt anyone intentionally. Never. He just plays the game as hard as anyone else and tries as hard as anyone else.
"He plays hard and if he breaks the rules he gets punished. That's rugby league."
Hoffman's backing comes after a turbulent past month for Blair in which he copped criticism from former Broncos enforcer Gorden Tallis, following controversy over a chicken-wing tackle on club teammate Sam Thaiday during last month's transtasman test between the Kiwis and Kangaroos.
The incident earned Blair a one game suspension, his second enforced holiday for acts of foul play in a month, after he missed the Broncos defeat to Cronulla due to illegal contact on Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds in round nine.
Tallis, no angel during his own Broncos career (1997-2004), launched a scathing attack, declaring Blair one of the dirtiest players in the NRL.
The former Kangaroo went on to slam his use of wrestling holds in tackles, and described his late hits on rival playmakers as "cowardly."
"That's rubbish and same goes for all that wrestling he likes to use on a ball carrier but only after he is on the ground and has a couple of other blokes pinning him," Tallis told The Australian.
"Blair is the worst for it. It's grubby and it's why he is considered the dirtiest player in the game."
Hoffman, who played two stints at the Storm for 11 seasons (2003-1010 and 2012-2014), laughed when informed of Tallis' comments, and said wrestling tactics no longer have any relevance in the modern game.
"Geez that's a very old Melbourne wrestling story," he said. "That's almost a 10-year-old story so it's the sort of thing everyone has moved past, those Melbourne wrestling days.
"Rugby league's moved past it and I think the whole NRL has moved past that being an issue."