Nerves arrive early for Maori captain

He’s played plenty of big games but the nerves have already started to kick in for Adam Blair as he prepares to lead the Maori team onto AAMI Park for Friday night’s clash with the Indigenous All Stars.

The 32-year-old lock has enjoyed an illustrious career, representing his country on 48 occasions and lining up in four NRL grand finals, but he’s never captained a side representing his Maori culture.

And that’s why the Warriors veteran is approaching the match with some trepidation.

“To be honest I am quite nervous sitting up here,” Blair said in Melbourne on the eve of the Harvey Norman All Stars clash.

“I don’t want to let my people down and the people we are going out there to do them proud.

“I am really excited for the opportunity, humbled, but nervous at the same time.”

Blair will lead out a powerful looking Maori outfit boasting plenty of experience, with Jesse Bromwich, Kevin Proctor and James Tamou all having played more than 200 NRL games.

But in the halves the story is vastly different, with Kalyn Ponga and Jahrome Hughes hugely inexperienced in the No.6 and No.7 jerseys.

Maori coach Stacey Jones said his message to Ponga and Hughes has been to keep things simple against the impressive Indigenous backline and to let their forwards do most of the work.

I know there will be a lot of proud Maori people back home watching this game

Maori All Stars lock Adam Blair

“They have just got to play off the back of what our forwards do,” he said.

“It’s been pretty tough to put into detail how we want them to play, we have to keep things pretty simple.

“They are two talented kids and they have really fitted in quite well.”

Jones said the All Stars contest was a great chance for all the Maori players to pay tribute to their culture and upbringing and that interest levels in New Zealand had been immense.

“I know there will be a lot of proud Maori people back home watching this game with a lot of interest,” he said.

“This is a perfect opportunity for this team to grow a bit of pathway for more opportunities to play in other game.”