Blair ‘on verge of tears’ over lockdown
Warriors veteran Adam Blair has revealed the emotional toll the uncertainty of New Zealand's indefinite Australian tour has had on the club.
Blair was on the verge of tears when asked what it was like to celebrate his 34th birthday last Friday without his wife and two children.
The Warriors have been stuck in Australia since March 13 after travelling across the Tasman for a supposed two-night trip to play Round 1 of the NRL.
Strict border controls issued while they were in Newcastle meant the Warriors would have to withdraw from the NRL if they returned to New Zealand.
A competition without the Warriors would cost the NRL millions in lost broadcast revenue every week, with no guarantee the New Zealand players would continue to be paid.
The Warriors have set up camp at a resort in Kingscliff in northern NSW and lost a "home" game against the Raiders on the Gold Coast on Saturday.
The club has committed to remaining in Australia for as long as the NRL is being played, a scenario which could see them stay away from New Zealand for six months.
Blair said while the team was grateful for the NRL's moves to keep them comfortable, the uncertainty of the situation was weighing heavily on them after a two-day trip turned into an indefinite tour.
"It was quite upsetting because I didn't get to see the kids (on my birthday) but it is what it is," Blair said.
"It's just the unknown for us.
"Every single day, when we seem to have pushed past it as a group, something else comes up again and there's another conversation. We put it aside then something else comes up.
"It's a unique situation for us. It's hard, but there's no excuses for us.
"We've got to make this our home and start realising as a group it's going to be our home now. We've got to buy into it. We are slowly but it's hard.
"Even though you speak as a group, you don't know how individually people are thinking deep down inside.
"We've got a really family-orientated group, a lot of Pacific Island boys who live at home with their families.
"It's about making sure we stay strong together and keep pushing forward."
The Warriors have flown in reinforcements, with a group of six players joining the squad during the week to bolster their depth.
They have to serve a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to play and Blair said the team would not begrudge any teammates that decided to return home.
"We've told the boys - if they don't want to be here because of their family then don't stay. We're supporting that throughout the group," he said.
"We're getting looked after pretty well. It's our families back home that the pressure is getting put on.
"A lot of the Aussie boys' partners don't have family back home and New Zealand is starting to get a lot stricter now. They're one step away from being locked in their house and don't have family support.
"My wife (Jess) and kids can come over here - I'm one of the lucky ones.
"But there's schools, uni. My wife is in the last year of uni, if she packs up now she fails.
"She has followed me everywhere I've gone and it's always about me. It's hard for her to make a decision.
"They can't stay with us anyway because you've got to go into lockdown for 14 days (when you arrive in Australia)."
The Warriors are scheduled to face Manly at Lottoland on Friday if the NRL's Round 3 games progress.
The Warriors have only scored six points, courtesy of a penalty try, in 160 minutes of football this season and have been widely-tipped to contend for the wooden spoon.
A veteran of 313 NRL games, Blair admitted the toll of their uncertain situation and mounting losses could be hard to cope with.
"It's a young group and we're stripped for numbers. The kids that have come in have been outstanding the last two weeks and performed for us," he said.
"We need to put away all the noise, which is pretty hard, and put in performances we're proud of.
"If we're not it's going to make our time away from our families a lot harder.
"We can't go out there and disappoint and get a scoreline like that (20-6 loss) all the time. We've got to be competitive and work hard as a group.
"We're trying to keep our preparation as normal as possible but that's hard because every day there is a restriction coming in for us.
"The hotel restaurant is getting stricter. The cafes across the road we shouldn't be going there because of (the player lockdown).
"It gets harder and harder every day."
Originally published as Blair 'on verge of tears' over lockdown