Adam Blair during a Brisbane Broncos training session this week.
Adam Blair during a Brisbane Broncos training session this week. DARREN ENGLAND

Broncos tell Kiwi enforcer he's free to shop around

WAYNE Bennett has changed his tune on the future of one of his favourite players, formally allowing Broncos enforcer Adam Blair to negotiate with rival clubs for an early release from Red Hill.

Blair is contracted with Brisbane for 2018, but with the Warriors and Dragons both expressing interest in the 30-year-old, Bennett won't stand in the way if Blair is able to cash in on what is likely the last contract of his NRL career.

Earlier this week Bennett told foxsports.com.au that no discussions around releasing Blair had been broached, while CEO Paul White reiterated that stance when quizzed by reporters on Thursday.

But former Broncos assistant Stephen Kearney has cash to spend and an underperforming Warriors pack to whip into shape.

The Kiwi franchise has tried more than once to bring Blair back across the ditch throughout his 258-game career, and now Bennett is willing to part ways with his veteran front-rower for the right price.

"We've been asked about that, we've told him to go and have a look around and come back and talk to us," Bennett said on Friday.

Blair has spoken previously about finishing his career at the Queensland powerhouse after a rediscovering the fire once lost at Wests Tigers.

 

Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett (centre) during a training session in Brisbane this week.
Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett (centre) during a training session in Brisbane this week. DARREN ENGLAND

Bennett has previously described Blair's poaching from Concord in 2015 as a "miracle" and maintains the high opinion of him after first coming across Blair during New Zealand's 2008 World Cup triumph.

Warriors CEO Jim Doyle has confirmed that if Blair "gets a release from (Brisbane) then there is a good chance he may end up with us", and it's understood the Broncos are only entertaining offering Blair a reduced deal beyond next season.

The recent extensions of young props George Fai and Joe Ofahengaue offer some stability as conjecture continues around whether bad boy Matt Lodge will seek, and be granted the NRL registration needed to kick start his career.

Jack Bird's arrival from Cronulla in 2018 may also see him slot into lock, a move which would allow Test forward Josh McGuire to switch back into the front-row.

For the Warriors, bringing Blair home would see them finally getting their man after first pursuing him when he was 16 and Melbourne bound on a scholarship, where he first worked alongside Kearney, then an assistant to Craig Bellamy.

The former Kiwi Test coach is in the midst of overhauling the Warriors forward stocks with Ryan Hoffman, Ben Matulino and Charlie Gubb leaving at season's end, and veterans Jacob Lillyman and Bodene Thompson still off-contract.

News Corp Australia

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