Warriors veteran Adam Blair recalled for Broncos NRL clash
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/112886029/-

2019-05-21 06:51:51

Under-performing Warriors veteran Adam Blair has been given a chance to show his worth after being recalled for Saturday's home clash against the Broncos.

With prop Agnatius Paasi copping a one-game suspension for a dangerous throw, Bunty Afoa has been called into the starting side with Blair taking his place on the bench.

Other than that, the side is unchanged from the team that thumped Penrith. Issac Luke has been retained at hooker following a late call-up last week for the injured Nathaniel Roache, while five-eighth Kodi Nikorima is set to take on the club that released him just three weeks ago.

By his own admission, Blair has been far from his best this season.

While defensively he has been solid, the 33-year-old former Kiwis captain has struggled to make an impact in attack on the left edge, where he has played five of his eight games.

After missing the win over the Dragons two weeks ago through suspension, Blair was dropped to reserve grade last week where he topped the tackle count with 40 and finished with nine runs for 55m in the loss to the Panthers.

Paasi's absence is a blow for the Warriors up against a big, athletic Brisbane pack. The 27-year-old has taken the mantle as the Warriors' "alpha male" up front and produced an impressive show of strength to score against Penrith in an overall barnstorming display.

But Blair should relish his return to the middle in what will be his 298th first grade appearance. And skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck backed him to follow Luke's lead and make the most of his opportunity.

"It's tough sending guys who have played nearly 300 games back there. They're professionals, they get on with the job," Tuivasa-Sheck said.

"'Bully's' (Luke) been finding himself to get back in the team. He got a shot last week and I thought he was awesome. I think Blair will be the same.

"[Paasi's] been awesome right from the start and the boys have been inspired to follow him through the last couple of weeks.

"But it's really important for someone else to step up now."

Saturday's match at the at the temporarily renamed Rarotonga Mount Smart Stadium is part of the Indigenous Round. It's only the second time the NRL has honoured the Māori influence on the competition as well as Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.

The night will also have a special touch for Nikorima. In the space of three weeks the Kiwi playmaker has joined the Warriors from Brisbane, made his debut for his new club at his previous home ground and will now play at his new home for the first time against his old team.

It will be a sombre evening, though, with the Warriors wearing jerseys bearing No 52, the number Quentin Pongia claimed when he played for the club in 1998.

Pongia passed away last Saturday and will be farewelled at Greymouth High School at midday on Saturday.

There will be a video tribute to the Kiwis great on the big screen while a minute's silence will be observed before kick-off in honour of the 35-test front-rower.

Warriors: Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (c), David Fusitu'a, Peta Hiku, Patrick Herbert, Ken Maumalo, Kodi Nikorima, Blake Green, Bunty Afoa, Issac Luke, Leeson Ah Mau, Isaiah Papali'i, Tohu Harris, Lachlan Burr. Interchange: Jazz Tevaga, Adam Blair, Ligi Sao, Karl Lawton, Gerard Beale, Leivaha Pulu, Chris Satae, Chanel Harris-tavita

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