After arriving at the Warriors as a marquee signing last season, Adam Blair faces the prospect of being relegated to the reserves. The veteran forward speaks to Michael Burgess about his season struggles and how he is adamant he can return to his best form.
Adam Blair is down, but insists he is not out.
The veteran forward admits his confidence and belief have taken a hit this year, as he has struggled for any consistency.
Blair is the most experienced player at the Warriors with 297 NRL games but may be relegated to reserve grade this week.
He admits that would be a shock, as he hasn't played in the second tier competition since 2007.
But he's also adamant he can find his best form, even if the road back won't be easy.
"It's about going out there and getting it done," Blair told the Herald . "When you don't, you put pressure on yourself, and ask the questions … why didn't I get it done? That puts doubt in your mind; am I doing enough for the team? Have I ticked all the boxes? When you can't tick every single box, you start questioning your ability.
"I've been there before, where I questioned myself all the time. That doesn't stop, even though I have played so many games. I always want to be that person, doing everything I can for the team, be the player that everyone wants to play with. When subconsciously in the back of your mind somewhere, it's telling you that you are not, then you are doubting yourself."
Blair arrived at the Warriors as a marquee signing last season.
He wasn't the rampaging metre-eater that many fans desired, but he offered experience, leadership, aggression and toughness.
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He helped to elevate the performance of the pack, averaging more than 60 minutes a game and bringing defensive smarts, a handy offload and energy in the middle of the field.
There were still questions — he was one of several who struggled in the finals loss to Penrith — but his form saw him tour with the Kiwis to England.
This season Blair has struggled, though constant changes in combinations haven't helped.
He's still doing a defensive job, but at times has barely contributed on attack (17 running metres versus the Rabbitohs and one 13 metre carry against the Storm) and has struggled with discipline, conceding more penalties than any other Warrior.
"I haven't been consistent enough," said Blair. "I don't think I have performed well enough, for what I have done in the game … to be honest. It has been an up and down situation."
Like any player, Blair thrives on confidence and admits his levels are down.
"It's a mixture," said Blair. "Not believing in yourself and maybe having doubts at times through games. I'm a hard marker on myself and I haven't done enough to contribute to the team and that takes a little bit of a toll. You go away from games thinking 'what if I did this?', or 'I could have been better in these situations'."
His predicament is difficult, but nothing what he experienced at the Tigers in 2012 and 2013, where, as a new, high profile arrival, he copped the wrath for the team's struggles and was labelled by some Australian media as one of the worst signings in the club's history.
"There is a lot of stuff said outside [and] no point dwelling on what others say," said Blair. "It's not as bad [here] as it is in Sydney. [But] it can be hard for the family. They obviously want to talk to you about it, but you don't want to hear it. But you need to get on with life, work through the tough times. If you keep working hard for something, things end up changing, if you want it bad enough."
It would be foolish to count him out.
Blair overcame a tough childhood (he lost his father at a young age, and had to help look after his seven younger siblings) to become one of the most decorated players in New Zealand league history.
He has played in four grand finals, winning two, and notched 48 tests for the Kiwis, only topped by Ruben Wiki's 55.
He was part of the 2008 World Cup triumph and the Four Nations tournament victories in 2010 and 2014.
The 33-year-old has done it all, but needs to prove himself again, as there is no room for sentiment in the NRL.
"I have to believe in myself, my ability," said Blair. "It obviously would be a shock, if the coach says 'this is the 17' and you are not in it.
"It hasn't really happened before [here]. But also I understand we need consistency, not moving players around after a real good win (over the Dragons) and coming off four losses.
"[I'll] make sure if I do end up down there, it's about going out there and executing."