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Blair named Kiwis captain for World Cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/05/2017

Adam Blair believes he's a better captain, on and off the field, than when he led the Kiwis to a series defeat in England two years ago.

Tough prop Blair was named New Zealand captain for this year's World Cup, replacing the dumped Jesse Bromwich.

The spotlight will fall on 30-year-old Blair after Bromwich and Kevin Proctor were axed from selection contention for the tournament, following the drug scandal that enveloped them after this month's Test loss to Australia in Canberra.

Blair says the experiences gleaned over 41 Tests since his 2006 debut will hold him in good stead.

That includes his role in Kiwis triumphs at the 2008 World Cup and 2014 Four Nations.

Just as valuable in terms of learning was the season-ending 2015 tour of England when he and Issac Luke were co-captains in a dispiriting 2-1 loss, with regular skipper Simon Mannering having been ruled out by injury.

"I guess I'm a little bit wiser now, I understand that this job comes with a lot of different roles, on and off the field," Blair said.

"For me, it's just making sure we live up to our standards, first and foremost. I've got to lead that from the front."

Blair said he hadn't spoken to Bromwich about the captaincy but revealed he touched base with the world class Melbourne prop, and Proctor, in the wake of their fall from grace.

"I just wanted to make sure I've reached out, make sure they're OK, they're good people, the boys."

Kidwell said Blair was a logical selection, given his experience and the regard he is held in by team-mates.

He revealed he had also considered the possibility of reinstating Mannering as skipper.

However, Mannering, who relinquished the reins as Warriors captain last year, indicated he was happy in a support role.

Kidwell concurred.

"I really saw a different Simon Mannering in the Anzac Test, a lot more relaxed and he really enjoys that role.

"He's still a leader and I'm sure Adam's going to lean on him at times."

Kidwell's association with Blair goes back to his time as an assistant coach at the Melbourne Storm, when he was a teenage forward trying to make his way.

"He had a rat's tail back then.

"But to see the man he's become, he's a family man with good family values. It was really important for our captain to lead us through to the next World Cup and the next step."

The Kiwis open their World Cup campaign against Samoa in Auckland on October 28.

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