Blair season over after being hit with ban - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Blair season over after being hit with ban

By Ian McCullough 31/08/2011 08:14:13 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne backrower Adam Blair will miss the remainder of the NRL season after being hit with a three-match ban for his fight with Manly's Glenn Stewart in last Friday's explosive clash at Brookvale Oval.

The penalty handed down by the NRL judiciary committee on Wednesday is in addition to the two-match ban Blair accepted after being charged with contrary conduct following the incident in the Sea Eagles' 18-4 win over the Storm.

The committee, made up of Mark Coyne, Sean Garlick and Michael Buettner, took 10 minutes to make the decision after Peter Kite, representing the NRL, recommended a penalty of five to seven matches for his role in the 24th-minute flashpoint.

The decision means the New Zealand international has played his last game for the Storm having agreed to join Wests Tigers at the start of next season.

Blair, who was represented by lawyer Geoff Bellew, once again expressed his remorse for the incident, and Parramatta and New Zealand Test coach Stephen Kearney, who was called as a character witness, said fighting was not in the 25-year-old's nature.

"He is a young lad with enormous talent and is the eldest son in his family where he acts as a father figure," Kearney said.

"He is a natural leader and his character is very, very good. He is not a fighter."

Peter Kite said Blair had a duty to leave the field as directed by the referees and had failed to do it.

"The game requires players to act in the spirit of the game and follow the directives of the referees," Kite said.

"This reflects badly on Blair, and he's let himself and the game down."

Blair claimed he was jogging off the field having been sent to the sin bin, and said Stewart made a comment to him.

"I said to him 'what did you say'? He grabbed my jumper, I tried to push him off, he then threw the first punch and I retaliated," he told the hearing.

"I was disappointed in my actions, I shouldn't have done it and I regret it."

Bellew said Kite's recommendation was "manifestly excessive and unwarranted" and claimed the fight between Blair and Stewart lasted three seconds, before the other Manly players joined in.

Blair might miss New Zealand's Test with Australia in October, and his penalty could affect his involvement in the Four Nations tournament in England later in the year.

Storm football manager Frank Ponissi said Blair was "shattered" at the decision.

"We are disappointed, but we had a very fair hearing. Geoff Bellew did an outstanding job and we accept the decision," Ponissi said.

"It is now the end of his playing career at the Melbourne Storm but he will still be part of the team."

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