Maurice Blair
Storm hopeful to retain

The Melbourne Storm remain hopeful of retaining boom centre Maurice Blair for 2012, contrary to reports he has agreed to terms with the Penrith Panthers for the next two seasons.

The 26-year-old Blair has the ability to play centre, five-eighth and lock. Since joining the Storm at the beginning of the year, he has hit career best form.

Debuting for Penrith in 2007, Blair joined Melbourne as a replacement for Greg Inglis who had moved to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Although News Limited has reported Blair was set to reunite with Penrith, Melbourne football operations manager Frank Ponissi told that that is not the case and that the club is eager to retain the Queensland product.

“He has not signed with Penrith,” said Ponissi.

“That’s not true.” has learned that Blair has a one year option in his contract with the Storm and that the club is eager to speak with his manager Warrick Wright.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy was under the illusion the year option had been activated after he was quizzed by ABC Grandstand radio following their 20 point victory over Brisbane on Friday.

“I’m pretty sure he’s on with us for another year,” Bellamy said.

“As far as we’re concerned he won’t be going anywhere.”

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