Warriors coach Stephen Kearney has reminded senior forward Adam Blair to watch his tackling as he prepares to return from his second suspension of the year in Saturday's NRL clash against St George Illawarra.
The 32-year-old lock is clear to play against the Dragons at WIN Stadium after being suspended twice in six weeks, but can't afford any further run-ins with the match review committee in the lead in to the finals with 82 carry-over points still beside his name.
Blair missed last week's 36-12 defeat to the Titans while serving a one match ban for a late shot on Storm forward Kenny Bromwich in the Warriors defeat to Melbourne at Mt Smart Stadium a fortnight ago.
The former Kiwis captain previously served a two match ban in June, for a dangerous tackle on North Queensland wing Kyle Feldt in the round 15 win over the Cowboys in Townsville. That suspension forced him to withdraw from the New Zealand side for the mid-year Denver test against England and sit out the following week's defeat to Cronulla.
Blair's two stints on the sidelines came after he initially attracted the attention of the match review committee following a controversial late tackle on Canberra playmaker Aidan Sezer in round three.
While fortunate to avoid further punishment, the incident prompted Kearney to urge his new forward recruit to clean up his game or risk coming under extra scrutiny from referees – a message he reiterated this week while reminding Blair of his importance and responsibilities to the side.
Kearney accepts Blair's job description includes putting pressure on opposition kickers and ball-players, but stressed the need for him to err on the side of caution when looking to make his presence felt.
"What he has to have an awareness of is when ball players pass the footy you can't whack them when they've got their back to you. I've made him pretty aware of that," said Kearney.
"But the stuff like kick pressure, that's part of Adam's job and he's built his career on that, hassling the halves. But they brought in a rule just this year about hitting, particularly the halves, but all ball-players, late, without the footy, when they're facing away from you. You can't do that, so he knows that.
"He's a leader of the team and in the leadership group and we need him out on the park as often as possible, so he needs to make sure that he has an awareness of that next time he goes out there on Saturday."
Blair is disappointed his infringements have cost the Warriors and realises his reputation as a serial offender means he comes under close watch from match officials.
"It frustrates me because the things that have kept me out of the side are avoidable," said Blair.
"I'm aware of those things and I seem to get picked up on those little things most of the time.
"I've got to manage those things and just think of the bigger picture and the team and what the team needs, and me being out doesn't help the situation. The group is young enough as it is and a bit of leadership from me goes missing when I'm not playing and the team can do with guys like me being on the field and helping out."
The 283 game veteran could have hit the triple century mark already if not for his poor discipline, but believes he just needs to make better decisions rather than tone down his aggressive style.
Blair's presence will be vital as the Warriors prepare to take on a formidable Dragons pack including James Graham, Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Tariq Sims and Jack de Belin.
"I've played a lot of games now and I've never changed the way I've gone about my business," he said.
"It's a real fine line and I've been in a lot of these situations before and I do come up a lot when it comes to kick pressure and line speed and putting pressure on players to pass the ball early.
"It's a really hard one. I'm really competitive and I do push the boundaries when it comes to those things and sometimes you need people to do those things for the team, to not let people come to the line.
"Coming into this back end of the season where these games are really important [along with] having your best team on the field, I need to make sure I'm careful with how I go about my business.
"But I won't be changing it's more just being smarter with my selections."
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