Super League Heroes – Bobby Blair

12
Jul
Category: Heritage

Super League Heroes – Bobby Blair

Maurice ‘Bobby’ Blair was born in Maryborough in Queensland in October 1984. He played his junior football with Maryborough Rovers, before moving to the Souths Logan Magpies.

Blair joined the Penrith Panthers and made his NRL debut against the New Zealand Warriors in the 2007 NRL season. He scored six tries in just nine appearances for Penrith in his debut season, despite which they finished bottom of the table. In 2008, the Centenary Season of Australian rugby league, Blair was selected to play at centre for the Indigenous All Stars, who defeated the New Zealand Māoris 34-26 at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup opening ceremony.

After making 48 NRL appearances for Penrith, Blair signed for the Melbourne Storm at the end of the 2010 season. In his first two years at the club, Blair was a fringe first grade player but in 2013 made 18 appearances, scoring ten tries, including the first try for Melbourne in their 18-16 elimination defeat against the Newcastle Knights.

At the end of that season, he moved on to the Gold Coast Titans for 2014. He made eleven appearances that year, but was released at the end of the season to sign a two-year contract with the Robins, along with close friend Albert Kelly. Blair made his Rovers’ début in a 40-30 home defeat by Leeds Rhinos in the opening match of the 2015 season. He went on to play in all but three of Rovers games that season, including playing in all but the first round of Rovers Challenge Cup run that year, in which he scored the first try in the fifth-round defeat of the Wigan Warriors – reversing a 60-0 defeat by the same opposition just two weeks before.

Blair was named Rovers’ ‘Player of the Year’ in the 2016 season, in which he missed only two games and scored two tries in what was a disappointing season for the Robins. He suffered the agony of relegation from Super League in the Million Pound Game at the end of that season, but was another of the senior players who showed his loyalty to the club in staying on and helping them get back into Super League in the following 2017 season. Having played the majority of his football in the back division until then, Blair was a second-row regular in the promotion season. He remained a regular starter in Super League in 2018, retaining his second row position at the start of the season, but once again covering at centre and half-back as required as the season progressed. He made his last Rovers appearance, from the bench, aged 35, in a Super Eights qualifier against Widnes Vikings at Craven Park in September 2018, his performance that day earning him the ‘Man of the Match’ award.

In all, ‘Bobby’ Blair made 117 appearances for the Robins, scoring 20 tries and kicking one goal. His consistency, dedication and reliability made him a favourite with the supporters at Craven Park. It was a two-way street, because Blair was yet another player to hail the Rovers’ fans for their vocal support during his time with the club, of which he said he had, ‘nothing but good memories’. His versatility in being able to play in several positions, notably back row, half back and centre; his aggression in defence, deceptive handling skills, and useful left-foot kicking game; and a remarkable freedom from injury – he only missed 15 games in four seasons – made him a coaches’ dream.

In February 2019, Blair signed up to play for the Northern Pride in the Queensland State competition.

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