Blair eager to seize Titans No.6
He's renowned as a Mr Fix-it but Maurice Blair is desperate to make the Titans five-eighth position his own and lead the former competition leaders back into the top eight.
A win by the Rabbitohs over the Dragons on Monday night will see Gold Coast drift back outside the top eight just six weeks after owning the competition's outright lead following a 5-1 start to the season, their strong start partly undone by four losses from their past five games.
Although the team lost, Blair was superb filling in at five-eighth against the Warriors two weeks ago and along with Beau Henry is vying to be named Albert Kelly's halves partner for Saturday evening's clash with the Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium.
Signed from the Storm in the off-season to bolster the depth in the troublesome centre position, Blair's only other start at five-eighth this year was against his former team and he helped to steer his side to a 28-26 win in Melbourne.
It was just his fourth appearance at five-eighth in the past four seasons but he believes he has the skills necessary to do the job coach John Cartwright requires of him.
"Probably at the moment with Sezer out for so long hopefully I can stay at five-eighth and direct the team around, try and get us a couple of wins," said the 29-year-old.
"At this stage of the season and with the players we've got on the paddock at the moment I reckon that's probably the best position for me at the moment.
"I've been around for a fair while now so I'm not scared to tell the boys what to do, especially when it's only going to benefit the team anyway."
It's been a turbulent start to life on the Gold Coast for Blair who was arrested and fined for an incident in Maryborough on New Year's Eve and more recently torn cartilage in his right wrist forced him to spend a couple of weeks on the sidelines and then come back through the Intrust Super Cup.
Following the pectoral injury that has all but ended Aidan Sezer's season, the Titans need a cool head in the halves to match the flair of Albert Kelly as well as someone who can stand up defensively on the left edge.
Dave Taylor had never seen as much space in a Titans jersey as he did playing outside Blair against the Warriors and his close bond with Kelly also makes their pairing appealing.
"We've got the same manager so we hang out and catch up a fair bit," said Blair. "I was five-eighth in the game against the Storm there with Alby and we got them down there so I think we make a pretty good pair. We gelled pretty well there in that game.
"Just whenever [Albert] calls the ball you've just got to let him go. He doesn't do that much of the organising, he usually just plays off the back of the other half so if me and him are in the halves I'll be organising and he can just blend in whenever he wants."
It's a similar philosophy to that which Blair applied to playing inside Taylor with devastating effect. A Blair grubber kick led to the first of Taylor's hat-trick, the third coming on the stroke of half-time when Blair simply gave him the time and space to wreak havoc.
"He's that big you just give him the ball and tell him to run hard, that's about it," said Blair. "That's why when we get a lot of our shape we're trying to isolate one defender and get Dave one-on-one with him which is always hard to tackle.
"Obviously having Beauy (Beau Henry) there [against the Warriors] organising things makes it easier for me and I just wanted to give Dave a bit of time to wind up and just give him the ball early and he can create stuff himself; didn't have to do much with him."
Sezer's long-term injury and the minor ailments that have plagued Albert Kelly throughout the first 12 weeks have made it difficult for Cartwright to settle to turn out the same halves pairing two weeks in a row but Blair hopes that an extended stint at No.6 will make up for the stop-start nature of his life as a Titan thus far.
"When I was out I was still going to all the meetings because I wasn't used to a lot of the plays and the structures here," he said.
"I just talked to the coaches a fair bit and got the information off them and that gives you the confidence to go out and direct the boys around and tell them what to do on the field.
"The first couple of weeks [as a Titan] was a bit weird and still getting used to everyone but probably after about Round 4 or 5 I was getting used to everyone and I was pretty sweet by then.
"This is probably the hardest part of the season. We're getting to the halfway mark now and we've had a couple of losses in a row and we've had a few players out but we can't use that as an excuse. We've just got to keep turning up every week and sticking to our game-plan.
"You'v e just got to do whatever's best for the team. The team comes first and I'm happy to do whatever's best for the team."