The return of controversial Brisbane NRL prop Adam Blair has North Queensland on high alert, prompting calls from Cowboys coach Paul Green for better protection of Johnathan Thurston.
Brisbane prop Josh McGuire believed Kiwi enforcer Blair had “nothing to apologise for” on his return from a one-match ban for his infamous chicken wing tackle in the trans-Tasman Test.
But Green wasn’t so sure, asking officials to be on the lookout for more questionable Blair tactics in Friday night’s sold-out grand final re-match in Townsville.
Green feared for Thurston in particular, warning Blair “sails very close to the wind” in his quest to intimidate rival playmakers.
“(Broncos coach) Wayne (Bennett) is always telling him (Blair) to put plenty of pressure on JT,” Green said on Tuesday.
“The refs have got to be ready for that.
“Blair, in particular, sails very close to the wind.
“He’s just coming back from suspension. A lot has been said about him in the media – I trust that the refs will be ready for it.”
Thurston did not have to be reminded that he would be in Blair’s sights on Friday night.
“He loves to put pressure on the halves. He hits you late all the time – I will be expecting no different,” he said ahead of his 250th game for North Queensland.
“It’s always a fine night in the office when you come up against those types of players.
“It’s up to the officials to adjudicate and I am sure they will.”
Blair was described as “one of the dirtiest players” by Broncos great Gorden Tallis after the chicken-wing tackle on Kangaroos forward Sam Thaiday – his own Brisbane teammate.
Thaiday has already ruled out any bad blood in the fallout from Blair’s one-game suspension.
McGuire did not believe Blair had let the Broncos down as his front-row partner prepared to return from his ban against North Queensland.
“He has nothing to apologise for,” McGuire said.
“I am just looking forward to getting my front-row partner back.
“I don’t know if he has a point to prove.”