The man who was the backbone of the Broncos' last two premiership wins, Petero Civoniceva, says Northlander Adam Blair will repay Brisbane's faith in him by laying the platform for a seventh NRL premiership win against sentimental favourites North Queensland on Sunday.
Blair was on the outer with the Wests Tigers after three average seasons, during which he copped some savage criticism, even though he was not the only Tigers player struggling with the coaches, administration and off-field upheavals.
Civoniceva, who was just starting out on his distinguished career when he won the first of his two premierships with Brisbane in 1998, said Blair would provide the intimidation against North Queensland's power props Matt Scott and James Tamou, who have played Origin and for Australia.
"Scott is still the No1 front-rower going around at the moment," said Civoniceva of the player he groomed to take over his Queensland and Australian jumpers before retiring.
"But Adam Blair has brought a lot to the Broncos this year, and he plays with a lot of pride. I liked the way he and the boys played against the Roosters, they really got amongst them, and Blair rattled them.
"He's got physical presence. I remember when he was signed by the Broncos there was plenty of doubt about the wisdom, given his form at the Wests Tigers.
"But if you go back and see the tough edge he gave Melbourne Storm before that, you always knew he was a hard, tough, aggressive player."
Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett, who first got to know Blair when he was an assistant on the Kiwis coaching staff during the 2008 World Cup, found the tough forward was looking for an out from the West Tigers and started the contract wheels in motion that got the 29-year-old at a "bargain-basement" price.
There were plenty of doubters early after Blair made just one hit-up and eight metres in his second game for the Broncos. Bennett, though, knew Blair was the man he needed to put some mongrel and sting into his front row after releasing Ben Hannant. Hannant, incidentally, is sure to be fired up for the Cowboys against his old club at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
"I just loved his attitude and I loved what he (Blair) brought," Bennett said on NRL360 on Fox Sports. "Melbourne produce a lot of wonderful players because they've got a great system and a great culture there.
"He went to the Wests Tigers ... I couldn't believe it was the same player. I felt for him. I knew he hadn't lost it but I knew that something was impacting on him.
"Without going into the full story, it was a miracle that we got him. But I was so pleased that we did get him and he's added so much to us."