Blair says long sleeves are here to stay
It's been the fashion statement of the 2016 season that has garnered its fair share of detractors but such is the confidence the long sleeves have given Cheyse Blair the Storm centre says they are here to stay.
Social media went into meltdown when Blair ran out against the Panthers a month ago wearing a full-sleeve jersey with commentators such as Andrew Voss scanning the memory banks to recall the last time they had seen something similar.
Produced by the club's apparel manufacturer Star, Blair went to the long sleeve at training as his first Melbourne winter kicked into gear and told NRL.com that he feels so comfortable wearing it that he has no intention of stopping, despite what teammates and opposition fans have to say.
"'Vossy' was into me and I do get abused from the sideline. Obviously the fans are giving it to me and telling me I should be playing AFL and stuff like that but I'm happy to be playing good footy at a great club at the moment," said Blair, who grabbed two tries in Melbourne's 48-6 demolition of Brisbane on Friday night, the first double of his 52-game NRL career.
"We had them at training and the club said if we wanted to we could try them out.
"Obviously it's my first year in Melbourne and we were playing Penrith about six weeks ago and I didn't mind it. I was playing pretty good footy with it so I haven't stopped.
"I don't try to look at it as a superstitious thing because sometimes I might not be able to wear it but it does give me a lot of confidence and I'm probably going to keep wearing it every night game actually.
"We've had all night games since then so it might be different with a 2 o'clock game during the day but I'm a fan and hopefully the crowd loves it."
After previous stints at the Roosters, Parramatta and Manly, Blair has settled into life at the Storm quickly and is eager to stay on beyond season 2016.
Blair joined Melbourne on a one-year deal in October last year and with his form good and his young family happy said he was hoping to have a new contract confirmed in the not too distant future.
"I think they're in chats at the moment," Blair said of a potential new deal.
"Obviously they're trying to keep 'Coops' (Cooper Cronk) at the moment, I think that hasn't been a confirmed deal yet.
"I'd love to stay here. I've just had a baby last November and he's almost 10 months old now and my partner loves it in Melbourne so I'd love to stay."
Given the decimation of the ranks of outside backs in Melbourne this season Blair's contribution has been considerable to the Storm making their way to the top of the Telstra Premiership ladder midway through Round 17.
He hasn't missed a game since making his debut for the club in Round 9 and said that the coaching style of Craig Bellamy makes it easy for players to come into the team and excel.
"He just gives you one job and if you do your job – which is to run hard and make your tackles – it's pretty hard to drop you," Blair said.
"The big thing for me is that he gave me one job and I know that he's got confidence in me and that's probably the big thing for me, playing with a bit of confidence.
"It puts a smile on your face and you get out there and have fun and do your job."