Warriors forward Isaiah Papali'i has defended teammate Adam Blair's lack of involvement on the ball in 2019, insisting he is doing his fair share in other areas of the game.
Despite playing all 80 minutes of the 13-12 loss to Melbourne on Anzac Day, Blair carried the ball just once, running for 13 metres on his way to scoring the first try of the game at AAMI Park.
It isn't an isolated case for the Kiwi international, who in five games as a starting second-rower this year averages 5.6 carries and 45.2 metres.
Those numbers are dwarfed by the club's other starting back-rower Tohu Harris, who averages 11.6 carries for 111.5 metres in six games in the position this season.
But Papali'i told NRL.com it was unfair to judge Blair's game on what he does in attack and that his job is mainly about holding his edge together defensively.
Blair has made 236 tackles in seven appearances, including 42 against the Storm.
"I think defence wins games and for the past two weeks Adam has done his job on the edge," Papali'i said.
"A big part of it is defence and he's definitely been doing that … I reckon that's more important to us [than him running].
"We're not too worried about his runs … he scored off the one he did have [against Melbourne], so he was pretty effective."
Match Highlights: Storm v Warriors
Papali'i also pointed to the output of the club's back five when it comes to running the ball, and said it meant there were less carries available to the pack at times.
Both Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ken Maumalo sit inside the Telstra Premiership's top 15 for average run metres, and under the current system employed by coach Stephen Kearney it's not uncommon for members of the back line to handle the first three plays in a set.
"Attack wise the back five do a lot for us. They have big motors and like to carry the ball," Papali'i told NRL.com.
"Having people like Ken, Roger, and even Patrick Herbert on Thursday night, you can see that they are always wanting the ball.
"I guess [Adam's] opportunities for runs haven't come."
Maumalo reflected on his strong showing against the Storm, in which the Kiwi winger ran the ball 27 times for a game-high 228 metres, along with scoring a try and five tackle breaks.
Peta Hiku and Herbert also eclipsed 100 metres running metres in the loss, filling the void created by the absence of Tuivasa-Sheck (hamstring) and David Fusitu'a (ribs).
"I sort of knew I had to step up because Rog and Fus weren't there," Maumalo said.
Harris puts Blair into a gap
"I had to lead from the back and try and get the boys started … it was just the occasion, I had to lift up for it.
"It was a loss but we can hold our heads high. It was a tough game, it was there for us to win but with Melbourne you have got to go the whole 80 with them."
The Warriors return to Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday to face a Newcastle Knights team riding high after ending their five-game losing streak with an emphatic victory over Parramatta.