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Adam Blair arrived in Melbourne as a 16-year-old already thinking about giving rugby league away due to homesickness and a lack of belief. But that all changed when he began to learn under Storm coach Craig Bellamy. 

‌As he prepares for his 250th NRL match, Blair has opened up about the struggles early in his career when he first moved from a tightknit community in New Zealand to the big and bustling city of Melbourne. 

It was in 2003 when Blair was still in high school that he first signed with the Storm, packing up his bags to experience the Australian way of life. 

Signed to a two-year contract, Blair had no plans to make a living out of rugby league, with the now 30-year-old Brisbane Broncos prop moving to Australia to try something new. 

Coincidentally, Blair's arrival coincided with Bellamy's appointment as Storm coach, and it wasn't long until one of the NRL's greatest mentors soon started to have an impact on Blair's way of thinking. 

It wasn't until 2006 that Blair earned his NRL debut, but before that he had to endure four long pre-seasons made up of gruelling army camps and backbreaking training exercises. 

The pre-seasons at the Storm have broken many players mentally and physically, but for Blair he looks back on this time in a positive light. 

The New Zealand international said this part of his development is what made him into who is today, with Blair crediting Bellamy for how far he has come in his NRL career. 

"I think mentally and physically [Bellamy made me into the player I am today]," Blair said.  

"I went through some tough periods early in my career. 

"Coming over from home when I was 16 and going into such a strong system like that of the Storm was tough. 

"It was 2003 and I was still young and went through some tough army camps. 

"The mental side of things under Craig really put me in good stead for my football career. I learnt a lot from that time."

For most 16-year-olds, the biggest challenge they face is doing well in school and staying out of trouble. 

But for Blair it was leaving his friends, family and everything he knew behind him – throwing himself in the deep end to try and achieve something even he didn't think he could. 

Blair can still remember just how lonely he felt, with the young prop counting down the days until he could return home. 

"It was lonely coming over," he said.  

"I left my family and had no friends, but at the same time I always thought I was going to go home after the two years I was over here for. 

"I always knew that home was going to be home in two years until the two years finished and I didn't want to leave. I really started to enjoy it. 

"I was 16 going through some of the toughest pre-seasons of my career but I managed to get through those and still be standing today."

Now at his third club, Blair has put together a rugby league career most footballers can only dream of. 

It's a long list of accomplishments for Blair who has appeared in four NRL grand finals, run out in 39 Test matches for his country, and is about to notch up 250 NRL appearances. 

From a kid who loved his rugby union to one of the NRL's best front-row forwards, Blair could hardly believe the transformation he had made when asked about his journey to the top. 

"I was just always wanting to go home. I was a kid and I didn't think I was going to be playing rugby league. 

"I came from a rugby union background and came over here for an opportunity to experience the Australian culture. I didn't know what to expect. 

"I did it tough to start off with but then I didn't want to leave." 

And the NRL community is glad he didn't.


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