Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has hit back at critics of his star prop Adam Blair, describing the 30-year-old as a true leader and one of the most mature players at the club.
Blair has been the recipient of criticism after being suspended twice in two games for a late shot on South Sydney Rabbitoh Adam Reynolds and a chicken wing tackle on club teammate Sam Thaiday during Australia's Test against New Zealand.
Those indiscretions haven't changed Bennett's views of his Kiwis international, with the Broncos coach naming Blair captain for this week's match against the Wests Tigers.
With usual captain Corey Parker away on State of Origin duty it was thought Andrew McCullough might get the nod to lead Brisbane out onto Suncorp Stadium this Friday night, with Brisbane's hooker taking over the captaincy duties during the Origin period last year.
Bennett said although that was an option, he believed Blair's leadership would be vital for Brisbane's young forward pack that includes two debutants in Jaydn Su'A and Tevita Pangai Jnr.
"There were a few options to choose from," Bennett said.
"Adam is extremely mature and does his best every time he plays. He leads from the front and that's what I was looking for. It's not that the other boys don't do this, but I think Adam brings a lot of qualities.
"Adam will be on the shortlist when Corey [Parker] retires, but the future captain could even be away on Origin duty.
"The criticism of Adam hasn't affected him, but it has affected his family and unfortunately that's the way it normally works.
"Most of us teach ourselves to take the good and the bad, and Adam is no different. Unfortunately it's always our families that suffer."
Blair will have a tough task leading a team that will be missing six players on Origin duty.
The oldest player on Brisbane's interchange bench will be just 22 years old and Bennett said the younger players will have their game time managed to avoid player burnout over the Origin period.
"If the young guys get overexposed then they won't handle it," Bennett said.
"You only have to look at the Sydney Roosters halves situation. When they started the season they were under so much pressure and that's hard on young players with not much experience. Now they aren't even in the team.
"You just need to be wary of that and realise that they won't stay up in the NRL for long periods of time.
"Hopefully we can manage it pretty well and they won't lose confidence in what they are doing."