Sad case: the unfair derision of Adam Blair
Things are bad with the Warriors. Really bad. We know that because the club just signed a dead set modern legend of Kiwi rugby league and the collective reaction has been: “Oh”.
Not “Oh no” or “Oh dear” or even “Oh shit”. Just plain old Roy Orbison-big-old-fashioned-O. With a little h.
There was a time when the capture of an elite player like Adam Blair – a 263-NRL game and 39-test veteran of considerably above-average ability - would have been a cause for joy.
Unfortunately, that time was September 2012, give or take a month. Blair will turn 32 shortly after he starts carting the ball up for the Warriors. As seems to be their wont, the Warriors will be paying a player big money for what he has done in the past, not what he will do in the present or future.
The only way to consistently avoid that scenario is to never sign a player over the age of 28. The Warriors seem content to eschew that approach in favour of handing out pension cheques. We shouldn’t be too harsh on them for that – the reality of being a Kiwi club in an otherwise all-Australian player market is that players will seldom come to Auckland in their prime at a reasonable price.
And sometimes things work out okay with the Dad’s Army signings. Steve Price was for the most part great in his dotage. So too Ruben Wiki. Even Ryan Hoffman went okay.
The problem with the signing of Adam Blair isn’t just his age, it’s that it follows the signings of Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Kieran Foran – all great Kiwi talents who haven’t lived up to their billing in Auckland.
In fairness to that trio, Foran has been wrestling health issues throughout his brief tenure, RTS did an ACL but has recovered to be a regular standout in a poor team, and Luke has been pretty good when fully fit this season. But the Big Three’s best efforts have been to no avail; the investment in repatriating Kiwi beef hasn’t reaped any sort of dividend.
Signing Adam Blair at a stage of his career when he will need to defy biology to produce his career-best form doesn’t exactly inspire much fervour. And that’s a real shame – mainly for Blair, who deserves a much more enthusiastic reception.
A world cup winner in 2008 who will captain the Kiwis in this year’s world cup, Blair has been a mainstay of the national setup throughout what still ranks as this country’s most successful period. Blair’s blend of power, footwork and deft handling and caustic personality have been at the heart of just about every great moment the Kiwis have produced since he debuted in 2006.
Blair also enjoyed great success at Melbourne and has helped spark a revival at Brisbane either side of an unsuccessful spell at the Tigers, where he was (gulp) supposed to spearhead a resurrection.
Blair is a bloody good player. Gerard Beale, the utility back and some-time Kiwis international inked alongside Blair, is also pretty decent.
The reaction to reports of the signings has been anything but positive.
“Warriors fans have reacted with despair, derision and minimal delight to the reported signings of Broncos forward Adam Blair and Sharks back Gerard Beale,” the Herald summarised in a brilliant piece reporting on the feedback to its own reporting.
There was some good news.
“The initial emoji situation on the NZ Herald Facebook feed was more positive, with 213 fans giving a thumbs up, 91 laughing and 17 angry.”
Newsroom understands there were also 64 egg plant emojis and eight smiling turds.
Continuing its report by crowd-sourcing comments from its social channel, the Herald quoted Kieran Dawkins, who posted the following: “I have no words, these 'big' signings are the worst in the club's history.”
Poor Kieran appears to have got a little carried away here. He clearly doesn’t recall Matt Jobson, nor understand that the expression “I have no words” should be followed by no more words.
Even so, we take his point. He’s not happy. That’s sad, but understandable. Newsroom, too, has no more words.