ADAM Blair admits he is torn between money and loyalty as the Brisbane enforcer faces a massive $1.5 million sacrifice to remain at the Broncos.
D-Day is approaching for Blair, who is expected to finalise his future within the next week, possibly before Friday night’s clash against the Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.
The 31-year-old has become the most sought-after veteran prop in the code, with Blair fielding lucrative four-year offers from Newcastle and the Warriors.
Warriors coach Steve Kearney believes Blair is the slick professional who can bring a hard-edge to the Kiwi club’s culture, while the Knights view him as the perfect mentor for their younger core.
Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has given Blair permission to leave and chase a better payday but the Kiwi Test hardman admits he is dreading the thought of saying goodbye.
If Blair chooses to stay, it would be the ultimate show of loyalty. Off-contract at the end of next year, he stands to pocket up to $2.4 million if he joins the Knights or Warriors.
Currently on $400,000 at Brisbane, Blair will only be offered around $250,000 annually for one final two-year contract due to Brisbane’s salary-cap pressures — meaning he faces a seven-figure sacrifice.
Blair confirmed to The Courier-Mail that he has held talks with the Warriors, but is weighing up the ramifications of moving his wife and two children away from a city they love.
“It’s a really hard decision,” said Blair, speaking for the first time about the possibility of quitting the Broncos.
“I’ve spoken to the Warriors but there’s a few other clubs who are interested.
“It’s a tough one. I really want to stay and Wayne has given me the opportunity to look around. A few clubs are coming to try and get me. The decision will come sooner rather than later, I will probably sort things out in the next week.
“I expected to finish my career here, 100 per cent. That’s why I signed a four-year deal and I was hopeful the Broncos could keep me on.
“I’ve had some really honest talks with Wayne in the last week and a half.
“I’ve enjoyed his face-to-face honesty, it’s made the picture a lot clearer for me. The honesty I get from Wayne has been really good.”
Blair is mindful of the perils of making financially-motivated decisions.
When he left Melbourne to join the Wests Tigers in 2012, Blair arrived as the Tigers’ big-money recruit but he quickly learned his new club lacked the cultural standards and professionalism of the Storm.
The three-season tenure at the Tigers nearly destroyed Blair’s career and it took a lifeline from the Broncos to ram home the importance of being settled at a well-resourced club.
“I left Melbourne and went to Sydney and did it pretty tough there, so I understand how hard it is when you leave a good place,” Blair said.
“I am older now. I understand what it takes to be a professional footballer.
“I have to give some credit to myself. I am passionate about what I do, I love helping out the younger boys and it’s a great reward when you see the guys at the Broncos come through and play NRL.
“That gives me a kick that I have helped develop them in some sense. Those things drive me to be a better person, I enjoy playing with those guys and that’s what a lot of the clubs want me for.
“I left New Zealand when I was 16 so I don’t even know Auckland that well anymore to be honest. I have lived half my life here and half back home. My wife would have to pack things up and go to a new country.
“If I have to go, it involves another move and that will involve my partner and the kids. I’ve moved a few times now and I want everyone to be happy, including the Broncos.”
Blair’s front-row cohort Korbin Sims says the veteran of 260 NRL games has played a key role in the development of rookie forwards Joe Ofahengaue, Tevita Pangai Jr and Jai Arrow.
“He’s just a world-class, professional athlete,” Sims said. “He’s one of those professional forwards that you want to try and model a bit of your game off. There’s plenty of young lads here as well that he’s mentored. My short time with him has been very enjoyable.
“I’m really hoping he doesn’t leave but he has to take care of himself. We’ll try to enjoy the rest of the year with him and hopefully get to October with him.”