He is described as ”the best forward in the world” but at Wests Tigers the impending signing of Adam Blair is causing uncertainty and confusion rather than celebration.
While the acquisition of the New Zealand international would be a major coup for the Tigers, his big-money arrival is heaping pressure on the places of 2005 premiership winners Liam Fulton and Bryce Gibbs. Fulton, 26, broached the touchy topic for the first time yesterday, saying his and Gibbs’s preference was to stay.
Fulton and Gibbs have been granted permission for their agent, Darryl Mather, to seek options for them elsewhere despite being contracted until the end of 2013 and 2014 respectively. Fullback Wade McKinnon last week signed with English Super League side Hull FC.
Blair has long been considered a lock to join the Tigers but the fact he is still yet to sign suggests some manoeuvring still needs to take place, amid speculation the Sydney Roosters remain in the market for him.
Fulton was resolute in his desire to remain a Tiger but, realistic about the situation, it can be implied he and Gibbs would likely accept rival offers if they were tasty enough.
Confusion surrounds the reasons for the possible exits of Fulton and Gibbs, with Fulton saying salary-cap pressure was the main factor but others at the club suggesting the popular forwards feared for their positions in first grade with Blair and the emerging Simon Dwyer, Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods and Ben Murdoch-Masila on the scene, among others.
The Roosters, meanwhile, deny they have performed their own off-loading to attract Blair. It had been suggested Queensland forward Nate Myles’s move to the Gold Coast was designed to free up money for a big-money pursuit of the 25-year-old, whose management has been asking for upwards of $500,000 a season.
Roosters officials had been interested in Blair several months ago but they maintain the club cannot afford him. The exit of an on-contract player in Myles, they say, centred on a need to stay under the salary cap next year, rather than to buy one of the world’s most expensive forwards.