19 January 2023
Adam Blair knows from personal experience the significance of wearing the Māori jersey and wants to see a full house for the NRL Harvey Norman All Stars: Māori v Indigenous clash in Rotorua in February.
The former Kiwi and NZ Māori player and fellow former Kiwi league star, Isaac Luke, were recently announced as assistant coaches, alongside head coach Benny Gardiner, for the Māori All Stars.
Blair who hails from Te Tai Tokerau, played for 14 years in the NRL and has worn both the Kiwi and Māori jerseys says he is looking forward to returning to Rotorua, this time as assistant coach. Both he and Luke played for the Kiwis in the one-off test against Tonga in Rotorua in 2009.
“First and foremost, I’m really privileged and honoured to be named as an assistant coach. From afar, I have always wanted to be a part of it, once I had finished up playing. I’ve played a couple of times for the Māori All Stars and I really loved my time back then.
“But for me now [as an assistant coach], it is actually the most nervous I have been in a long time because it has become a reality to coach, and to coach Māori at this level is what I have always wanted to do.”
Blair is encouraging Rotorua locals to get behind the event and come support all the teams taking part, especially the Indigenous All Stars.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring this game home and display our people, our culture and what it means to us. I know the Indigenous All Stars are really excited to come over as well and experience our culture.”
New Zealand Māori Rugby League chairman John Devonshire says the Harvey Norman NRL All-Stars will “kick 2023 off in a positive light”.
The exciting clash of cultures between New Zealand Māori and the Australian Indigenous men’s and women’s teams is happening on Saturday, 11 February 2023, at the Rotorua International Stadium.
It will be the first time the event will take place outside of Australia, and Devonshire says Rotorua was the perfect location.
“You could ask any league player or supporter from Rotorua the significance of having a game like this in Rotorua. It’s a great opportunity and a game of this magnitude is good for the city.
Devonshire, whose whakapapa is Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa says the recent appointments of Blair and Luke showed that New Zealand Māori Rugby League was looking to the future.
“There are no more passionate Māori warriors than these two and they will soak it up and they will learn. The other beauty of Benny’s appointment is that they will learn from Benny and, in terms of a succession plan, they are it.”
Coaches for the Māori women’s indigenous team are Keith Hanley (Ngāpuhi) assisted by John Strange (Ngāpuhi), who was with the Sydney Roosters NRLW, and manager Stephaine Spooner (Ngāti Kahungunu).
Prior to the kick-off of the main event between the Aotearoa New Zealand Māori versus Australian Indigenous All Stars, fans will be treated to a mixed touch game between the Māori All Stars and Australian Indigenous All Stars as well as a league clash between the New Zealand Māori Women and the Australian Indigenous Women’s All Stars.
Details can be found here.
Gates open at 1.15pm and the main game kicks-off at 5.45pm. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster click here.
7 June 2021
The 35-year-old Blair, from Whangarei, has been made an MNZM for his services to rugby league.
Blair is only the second person in the history of rugby league to play 50 Tests for New Zealand behind Ruben Wiki (55) and is the New Zealander with the second most NRL appearances in the Australian Premiership (331) cementing himself as one of New Zealand Rugby League’s greats.
Adam Blair took the field at Eden Park against the Great Britain Lions in 2019 in what was his 50th Test cap for New Zealand, marking an exceptional international rugby league career spanning 14 seasons. He is just the ninth player in history, and second New Zealander to achieve such a milestone.
Blair has a long and decorated career in the Black and White jersey beginning in 2006 when he made his debut after only 16 NRL appearances. Injury struck him out of the Kiwis’ 2007 campaign but he went on to feature in all seven of the Kiwis’ 2008 Tests; including the most iconic Test match of all, the 2008 World Cup final where Blair’s pick-up of a loose ball to score sealed New Zealand’s first ever World Cup victory with a 34-20 triumph over Australia.
He went on to play all five of the Kiwis’ Tests in 2009 – winning the NZRL International Player of the Year and was a regular at prop, lock or second-row for his country until the end of 2012, including another Suncorp Stadium upset of the Kangaroos in the 2010 Four Nations Final.
2014 Blair received a well-deserved recall for the Kiwis and was a front-row starter in all four Four Nations matches including dual wins over the Kangaroos.
2015 saw Blair named co-captain of the Kiwis squad that toured England and was ever present in all six of New Zealand’s 2016 Tests and the 2017 Anzac Test. Blair then received an honourable accolade as he was announced Captain of the Kiwis’ 2017 World Cup squad.
2018 saw him capped in New Zealand’s record-equalling fifth victory over Australia and two matches against England.
After skippering the Māori All-Stars in a historic pre-season encounter with the Indigenous All Stars, Blair made his 300th NRL appearance in 2019 – only the third Kiwi to do so following greats, Ruben Wiki and Simon Mannering.
2019 saw the 33 year old receive a late call up for the Kiwis campaign where he started at lock against Australia before being honoured with his 50th Test cap in front of friends and family at home at Eden Park. He went on to play his last Test for the Kiwis the following week in Christchurch as the Kiwis achieved a series win against the touring Great Britain squad.
Against the backdrop of his international accolades, 2020 saw Blair co-captain the Māori All-Stars in their 30-16 win over the Indigenous All Stars to then go on and play every single game for the Warriors 2020 season before calling time on his long-standing but legendary career.
For all that, when he was told about his appointment, he admits he initially thought he’d done something wrong. “I got a phone call from someone from the Governor-General’s office and I thought I was in a bit of trouble!” Blair told Stuff.
“I was wondering what I’d done wrong, so I needed to apologise to the lady on the phone who spoke to me, because I was a bit funny on the phone and I had to say sorry for the way I acted.
“But I’m very grateful and humbled to be nominated firstly and then to be on the list.”
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says, “Adam Blair has cemented himself as a rugby league great, a Kiwi legend and a Māori leader.
“We are extremely grateful to have had someone of his calibre rep the Black and White jersey, and we thank Adam for not only leading on the field but also in the community and being a great advocate for the game,” he adds.
“This accolade is well deserved, he’s a Kiwi great who has been an integral part of key New Zealand Rugby League history. His impact both on and off the field will be felt for decades to come. Congratulations Adam.”
Warriors CEO Cameron George says that even during his playing days, Blair’s dedication to give back to local communities went unmatched.
“When we needed something in the community, regardless of his pay-packet or standing in the game, Adam was always the first one to put up his hand,” he said.
“He just loves giving back to people, and he’s been able to do that through rugby league, because he has a wonderful story behind him.”
“His passion and commitment are outstanding, and we’re really privileged to have him as part of our club and the game should be privileged to have people like Adam in it.”
Blair has moved on to the next chapter in his life which he’s pursuing with the same enthusiasm he’s always had.
“I’m doing the TV stuff and I fell into that,” Blair said.
“I’m lucky after everything I’ve done to be able to talk about rugby league, which is everything I know.
“I help with the development pathways at the Warriors, with Stacey Jones and Tony Iro.
“At the moment there aren’t any pathways set up, because of Covid and there not being any games.“ But I can teach them the basics of our game and give them my knowledge and experience to help, so they’re prepared to take the next step.
“I’m also trying to sneak off on my own and set up the ultimate goal for me, which is to have an academy. Where people come to me and I show them the way, with my knowledge and train them.
“But then if those pathways aren’t open for them, then there are other opportunities out there.
“So have businessmen and trades all connected into the one academy where I can show them pathways, rather than them getting to the point where they realise they’re not going to make it in rugby league, then not knowing what they should do next, and we are losing a lot of kids.
“So that’s my ultimate goal, to give back to the community, help our next generation be better equipped for not just rugby league, but for life in general.”
Auckland, New Zealand, October 13, 2018 – Veteran forward Adam Blair is set to move to second equal on the Kiwis’ all-time appearances list in tonight’s Trans-Tasman Triple Header Test against the Kangaroos at Mount Smart Stadium (7.45pm kick-off).
The 32-year-old former Kiwi captain is named to come off the interchange bench for his 46th Test, drawing level with two other ex-Kiwi skippers Stacey Jones – now a Kiwi assistant coach – and Gary Freeman.
If Blair, who debuted in 2006, appears in all three Tests in England he will move within one appearance of becoming just the second player to appear in 50 Tests for the Kiwis behind Ruben Wiki (55), the former world record holder for international matches.
Vodafone Warriors forward Blair is comfortably the most experienced player in the squad for the end-of-season campaign with his club-mate Shaun Johnson next in line, set to play his 26th Test today.
The other players with more than 20 Test appearances are front rowers Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (24) Jesse Bromwich (24) and Marty Taupau (21) while returning second rower Kevin Proctor plays his 18th international tonight.
The Kiwis completed their on-field preparations with their final training session at Mount Smart Stadium yesterday before head coach Michael Maguire and debutant captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak joined Kangaroos counterparts Mal Meninga and Boyd Cordner – also captaining his country for the first time – at a packed media conference. It was followed by a joint photo opportunity with the coaches and captains from the Kiwi Ferns and the Australian Jillaroos, who’ll play in the second leg of the Trans-Tasman Triple Header (5.15pm kick-off). The opening match on the bill (3.05pm) is between the Junior Kiwis, led by 20-year-old Vodafone Warriors second rower Isaiah Papali’i, and the Junior Kangaroos. Papali’i will tour England with the New Zealand Kiwis.
Last night the Kiwis had their Test dinner with legendary 1998-2006 Kiwi Ali Lauitiiti presenting the jerseys to the players. Earlier in the week, Wiki also came into camp to address the team.
Throughout the week there has been a potent mix of former Kiwis throughout all three New Zealand teams.
Maguire has 2008 World Cup-winning Kiwi captain Nathan Cayless and Jones as two of his assistant coaches while two other illustrious Kiwis Nigel Vagana and Motu Tony, both working for the New Zealand Rugby League, are also on the team’s staff.
The Kelvin Wright-coached Kiwi Ferns boast Kiwi and Vodafone Warriors great Simon Mannering on their football staff along with Australian Justin Morgan, the former Vodafone Warriors prop and assistant coach.
Junior Kiwis coach Ezra Howe also has vast international and NRL experiences to call on from his staff in ex-Kiwis Clinton Toopi, Tony Iro and Jerry Seuseu.
BUY TICKETS NOW | TRANS-TASMAN SHOWDOWN
Saturday, October 13
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
3.05pm | Junior Kiwis v Junior Kangaroos, 3.05pm
5.15pm | Kiwi Ferns v Jillaroos, 5.15pm
7.45pm | Kiwis v Kangaroos, 7.45pm
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS v AUSTRALIAN KANGAROOS
7.45pm, Saturday, October 13, 2018
Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland
NEW ZEALAND KIWIS
(Gold Coast Titans)
(St George Illawarra Dragons)
(Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles)
HEAD COACH | MICHAEL MAGUIRE