Adam Blair ready to step up for new-look Wests Tigers
Kiwi international Adam Blair (AAP)
By Steve Jancetic
Kiwi international Adam Blair believes he went away from the very things that secured his big-money move to Wests Tigers and he's determined to make amends in the 2013 NRL season.
By the time Blair found his feet last year, the Tigers' season was gone and the one-time premiership favourites failed to even secure a finals berth.
Blair was seen as the missing ingredient in a Tigers pack which lacked flair and size on the edge of the ruck - exactly the elements the ball-playing back-rower displayed in seven successful seasons with Melbourne.
But Blair failed to make the sort of impact he or the Tigers faithful had hoped for following his much-hyped recruitment with a price tag which cost the club popular props Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita.
"There was a bit of hype around myself. The only person I need to prove anything to is myself and I let myself down last year," Blair said.
"Coming from Melbourne, I did things there that made me the player I was and I think I went away from that last year.
"I got better later on in the season but, by then, it was too late.
"We had a disappointing year and so did I. I've worked hard in the pre-season and so has the team to correct the wrongs."
But not only does Blair have to lift his level of performance to match his own expectations, he will also be called on by new coach Michael Potter to help fill the void left by departed back-rower Gareth Ellis.
Englishman Ellis, who was the Tigers' player of the year in three of his four seasons in Australia, gave the side a hard edge now seemingly lacking in a youthful forward pack.
"I've had my year to settle in here. I think it's time for me to start leading as one of the guys that has played a bit of footy," Blair said.