Wests Tigers forward Adam Blair predicts a very successful future at the Wests Tigers. Credit: Colin Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos.
He's been to hell and back when it comes to his form, and now reborn Wests Tigers forward Adam Blair wants to extend his future at Concord.
With 18 months still left to serve on the hefty contract he received since moving from Melbourne in 2012, it might be too early to sit down with club officials to talk about 2016.
But having seen first-hand what the promising batch of youngsters at Tigertown is capable of, the current Kiwi international is now intent on starting the conversation.
"We're heading in the right direction. All these young kids coming through are good talents. They've come from a winning culture in the -20s. As long as we're winning footy, everyone's happy around here," Blair told NRL.com.
"We're pushing each other to the limits and it helps me prolong my career. That's the main thing. I want to stay around for a couple more years, three years or so. If I'm doing the right things and we're winning footy, I think that'll happen."
Heading into this weekend's 15th anniversary clash for the joint venture club against the Broncos in Campbelltown, the Tigers occupy sixth spot on the ladder on the back of an underrated forward pack that has this year brazenly bared its claws.
Rookie halfback Luke Brooks and injured fullback James Tedesco have showed glimpses of why they're considered future Origin stars, while current Blues hooker Robbie Farah was arguably the hottest player in the competition before his elbow injury.
And while Blair says there's still a long way to go in 2014, he believes premierships will eventually be on the radar of the club – and it might come sooner than everyone thinks.
"If we're playing really well, I think we're a chance of doing anything this year. This year we've got the squad that can compete up there with the best. We've shown that in the early stages of the season and we're still fighting at the end here now," he said.
"If we keep doing those things, you never know what can happen. But I know in the future, this club will be playing for premierships."
Blair also credited coach Mick Potter for the club's early-season resurgence. The second-year coach was reportedly 24 hours away from being sacked by the club late last year, but Blair says a harder-line approach this year – one that began with Benji Marshall's exit last season – has helped the team grow.
"He's a bit like me, I guess. The last couple of years when we've had him in there and myself, anything could've happened at the time. He has just stuck in there and worked really hard," Blair said.
"He's obviously come from the UK, a little bit of a different style of footy, and he's obviously had a year there to prepare for himself and I think he's been better for it.
"He's worked really hard – the boys are getting a lot of respect from him and he's telling us what our roles are. That's the main thing. He's putting people on notice and letting them know how he wants it. It showed last year when he did."
The Tigers lock, who represented New Zealand against the Kangaroos last month, said that he too is finally over the struggles that plagued his first few years at the club and denied ever being told to take his bulging contract elsewhere.
"No one from the club told me that they wanted me to go. I had the support of the coach and the players. I never thought that I was going to leave," he said.
"I just needed things to go my way and I ripped in as I do every pre-season. Obviously I'm getting older, and these young boys are getting bigger and stronger so I had to step up.
"For me to be able to hold my spot, I had to work extra hard. There were times in the pre-season where we had a break, but I had to work because I knew there were young kids there that could have a holiday and come back bigger and stronger."