Long-serving Kiwi international and former Vodafone Warrior Adam Blair has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the Queen’s Birthday honours announced today.
The award recognises Blair’s services to rugby league following a career which included 51 Tests for the Kiwis from 2006-2019, only the second New Zealander to appear in 50 Tests behind Ruben Wiki (55 Tests).
He retired at the end of last season following his 331st NRL match, the most by a New Zealand player in the competition until Benji Marshall went past his total this year.
"I'm very grateful just to know I was nominated in the first place and now to be recognised with this award is incredibly humbling," said Blair.
To be recognised with this award is incredibly humblingAdam Blair MNZM
Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George said the club was proud of Blair's award.
“He has made an exceptional contribution not solely to rugby league but also to New Zealand sport generally, to his heritage particularly and to his country as a whole,” he said.
“He might have stopped playing but he hasn’t finished in his quest to make a difference across each of those areas as he continues his links with the club and the game in a new post-football role.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Adam and what he has achieved and congratulate him on his award. It’s richly deserved.”
Blair started his NRL career with the Melbourne Storm followed by stints with the Wests Tigers and Brisbane before he joined the Vodafone Warriors in 2018.
George said Blair’s contribution to the Vodafone Warriors had materially enhanced the club’s reputation in the rugby league and sporting communities.
He said that was especially true in 2020 when he was among those who made extreme sacrifices in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, leaving his wife and two young sons home in Auckland when the Vodafone Warriors flew to Australia in May to ensure the National Rugby League competition would resume. It was an image of Blair hugging his tearful young son before departing which truly captured the magnitude of what he and his teammates were facing.
“Throughout the course of a tumultuous NRL season, Adam displayed exceptional leadership in providing the glue and energy that drove and held the squad together in the face of so many challenges,” said George.
“It was precisely those qualities which were the reason he was brought to our club in the first instance.”
When Blair joined the Vodafone Warriors in 2018 he was driven to do all he could to make a difference as a professional athlete on and off the field; he was also motivated to return home after many years in Australia to reconnect with his Māori heritage and to immerse his young family in his culture. This included indulging in Te Reo classes with his family and taking them back to his homeland in the Far North, where he is held in the highest regard.
“What also stands out with Adam, is his huge pride and passion for his culture and the way he has embraced the whole club, always taking time to out to engage with all staff as well as being an avid supporter of our community causes and all we stand for as a club,” said George.
Such was his durability he distinguished himself by missing just 19 of a possible 326 games in his last 13 seasons.
Fellow legends Stacey Jones (2006) and Wiki (2007) were awarded the ONZM during while Steve Price received the MNZM in 2011.