NRL: NZ Māori captain Adam Blair feeling 'nervous' for All-Stars clash

Coach Stacey Jones and captain Adam Blair.
Coach Stacey Jones and captain Adam Blair. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand Māori captain Adam Blair is one of the NRL's most experienced players, but that doesn't stop him from getting nervous before big matches.

Blair has played in a World Cup final, along with four NRL Grand Finals, but the butterflies are raging through his stomach, as he doesn't want to let his proud culture down.

The Māori face an Australian Indigenous side in a revamped NRL All-Stars fixture that holds plenty of significance for both teams.

Blair, a veteran of 298 NRL games and 48 tests, says this match is as significant to him as any other game he's played before.

"To be honest, I'm quite nervous," Blair said. "It's obviously a massive honour and a privilege to represent my culture and my heritage - I'm proud of it.

"Why I'm nervous is because I don't want to let my people down.

"We're going out there to do them proud, and I just want to make sure that I do them justice [with] what we're trying to do and trying to build as a culture.

"We get an opportunity to do that on a big stage. I'm really excited for the opportunity, humbled, but nervous at the same time."

Four Australian players with Māori heritage have been included in the squad - James Tamou, Kalyn Ponga, Dane Gagai and Jordan McLean.

Tamou, 30, completes a full circle after beginning his representative career with the NZ Māori, before embarking on a journey that has seen him play for Australia.

"I started with Māori rugby league and did the whole circle going to New South Wales, then Australia, now back to Māori rugby league," he told Newshub.

"I always hold these games closely, because that I where I started.

"The Māori and Indigenous people are the first people of the land, so there is lots of passion that comes from both sides, and you feel it with the haka and war cry, and even the first 10 minutes of the game.

"It rates highly for myself and puts Māori rugby league in the right direction, because we all know there is flair there."  

Tamou, along with Kevin Proctor, played for Māori in 2008, when they competed against an Indigenous Dreamtime team as the curtainraiser to the first match of the 2008 World Cup, losing 34-26.

So they hope for revenge more than 10 years later.


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