GLENN JACKSON July 14, 2012
Suspended … Tigers star Adam Blair. Photo: Getty Images
ADAM BLAIR'S suspension this week has left Wests Tigers wondering whether he was charged because of dangerous contact or because his name is Adam Blair.
Blair was handed a one-match suspension at the NRL judiciary on Wednesday night after being found to have caused unnecessary pressure to Bulldogs centre Josh Morris's leg last Friday night.
Tigers chief executive, Stephen Humphreys, had already stated that, given the lack of real force shown by Blair, the match review committee had ''set the bar low'' for other players. Now coach Tim Sheens and captain Robbie Farah have wondered aloud whether Blair's reputation might have played a role.
''Certainly you know who the referees are on,'' Sheens said. ''At the end of the day there are players who are guilty sometimes before the event happens. That pre-empting worries me. I would rather the referees have a blank whiteboard as a preparation sheet.''
Farah added: ''Obviously missing him for a week is disappointing. I thought there wasn't much in that, but I guess maybe because he's Adam Blair, he got charged.''
Sheens suggested he would be taking a keen interest in whether any similar charges followed.
''I thought when you look at in real time there wasn't much in that,'' Sheens said. ''The discussion at the judiciary was about force. The kid [Morris] gets up, plays the ball with the leg that was so-called twisted, and then runs a decoy for the try a minute-and-a-half later, and there's no complaint, no referee report. I think it is the very first one for a leg pull. Steve Humphreys said they set the bar low so it will be interesting to see how many are suspended for pulling the leg.''
The suspension has added more pressure on the Tigers, who have lost three matches in a row at a time when they are already without one representative back-rower in Gareth Ellis.
Still, they welcome Farah back for tonight's game, after he missed the clash with the Bulldogs due a head knock suffered in the State of Origin decider.
''We've got a tough run home ahead of us, and we're in a position now where we need to win some footy games and get back in the eight,'' Farah said. ''That's the challenge that faces us. We've just got to keep winning. For some reason, we find ourselves in this position every year. We're sitting about eight and eight, or seven and nine, and we're forced to win some games towards the back end of the year to finish strong. But we've done it in the past and hopefully we can do it again.''
Sheens admitted the club did some tinkering this week in their halves, after five-eighth Curtis Sironen only made nine touches against the Bulldogs, compared to halfback Benji Marshall's 71.
''Curtis got run out of the game last week,'' Sheens said.
''He hardly touched the ball. We have worked hard on getting Curtis into the game this week. Robbie coming back will help divide that up a little bit as well. He's young and he's not prepared to stand up quite yet to the senior guys, but we have worked pretty hard this week.''