Kiwis enforcer Adam Blair says it is good fortune rather than form which has put him in position to play his 50th Test for New Zealand on home soil this Saturday night against the Great Britain Lions.
Blair gave a blunt appraisal of his own NRL season with the Warriors and said as a result of poor form he didn't think he would be in the frame for the end-of-year Tests against Australia and Great Britain.
The 33-year-old forward was left out of the New Zealand team which beat Tonga in June and wasn't initially named in the squad for the World Cup 9s or Tests.
He was later drafted into both squads by coach Michael Maguire following a number of player withdrawals.
"I never thought I would be here [this year] to play my 50th Test match," Blair said.
"I'll be honest, I didn't have the best year. There's some good kids that aren't in this squad due to injuries or being unavailable.
"[But] once you stick on that jersey you find something extra for your country, for your people, for your family.
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"I am just very grateful and lucky that I have got an opportunity to go out there on Saturday night and represent my country again."
Blair will come off the interchange for New Zealand at Eden Park and become just the ninth player in history – and the second Kiwi after Ruben Wiki – to reach a half century of games at international level.
Maguire said the fact that Blair dropped everything to join the team in camp at late notice, having initially been told he was out, said everything about what the jersey meant to him.
"I remember ringing Blairy and I sort of said 'look at the present moment we haven't got you in the squad'," Maguire said.
"Then circumstances changed and he basically jumped on a plane, he was in Queensland, landed on the Sunday night and was on a plane Monday morning to arrive with us.
"I think Blairy is probably an example of if you persist with things then there's no reason why you can't do something.
"You can just see the presence Blairy has in this space … he is a big part of the Kiwi jersey and always will be.
"I have known Adam since he was 18 years old when he first arrived at the Melbourne Storm. We have got to make sure it is a milestone to remember."
Blair said after making his Test debut alongside Kiwi greats Ruben Wiki, Stacey Jones and Nigel Vagana in 2006, it's now special to hear his name mentioned alongside them when it comes to achievements in the black jersey.
"It's just cool to be up there with those guys," Blair said.
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"You look up to the likes of Ruben growing up. I didn't watch much rugby league, but you always knew who Ruben Wiki was.
"I haven't [spoken to Ruben this week] but I am sure he will flick me a text later in the week.
"A little fella from Whangarei … who would have ever thought I would have even played for the Kiwis?
"I never would have thought I'd play NRL let alone 50 Test matches for my country."