The Wests Tigers will arguably have the most devastating second row in the competition next season with Kiwi international Adam Blair set to pack down with English counterpart Gareth Ellis at Concord in 2012.
But the pair have barely had time to muster combinations yet with Blair and Ellis both on international duty in the Gillette Four Nations for their respective countries.
Blair’s signing gives the Tigers yet another attacking weapon and will prove a damaging option for both Benji Marshall and Robbie Farah. His ability to run holes and ball play at the line makes him one of the most feared players in the National Rugby League.
What is truly scary is that we probably only saw 50% of what he can do at the Melbourne Storm with Craig Bellamy playing a much more simple offensive game. This never really suited Blair’s style and giving him the chance to roam the field freely with a license to thrill will suit him down to the ground.
Ellis’ 2011 saw him win the Tigers Player of the Year award for the third consecutive year. Already one of the greatest English imports of the modern era, the Castleford native will again be at his fearsome best next season.
Add Keith Galloway, Robbie Farah and Chris Heighington and you already have one of the best packs in the game. The Tigers have become the respected forward pack that many thought impossible.
With the Tigers going forward, Benji Marshall comes into his own and with more time can make better and more rational decisions with the ball. With space and a backtracking defensive line, Blair and Ellis become almost unstoppable.
Blair is itching to don the orange and black and play alongside Ellis and his new team-mates.
“Gareth is very strong. I have watched him closely and the impact he has made on the NRL since coming from England has been superb’’ Blair said.
“His defence can be brutal at times and what he has brought to the Wests Tigers has been tremendous. I’ve been impressed with the way he carries the ball and the way he defends.
“He is a big leader of the forwards on the edge of the ruck and he plays the game with a lot of passion.
“Having some really big blokes like Keith Galloway and Gareth in the pack next year means we should never be on the back foot. There is also some terrific young talent here in the likes of Aaron Woods and Matt Groat.
“When I played against Woods, I thought he was very solid and he has a very big future. Matt is a big boy who is also going places. I look forward to helping to develop their games.”
You can tell Blair is chomping at the bit to start a new chapter in his career. A chance to play some of that ’freestyle footy’ that has made the likes of Feleti Mateo a hit with the kids.
Make no mistake about it, Blair is one of the premier forwards in our game and off course the kids love him.
But he knows there are things in his game he is yet to show us and that is the scary part.
This article was originally posted on thebigtip.com.au on 14-11-11