THE man who was the backbone of the Broncos' last two premiership wins, Petero Civoniceva, says Kiwi international Adam Blair will repay Brisbane's faith in him by laying the platform for a seventh NRL premiership win against sentimental favourites North Queensland at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
Blair was on the nose with the Wests Tigers after three average seasons, during which he copped some savage criticism even though he wasn't the only Tigers player struggling with the club's coaches and administration and the off-field upheavals around him.
When Bennett, who first got to know Blair when he was an assistant on the Kiwi coaching staff during the 2008 World Cup, found out the tough forward was looking for an out he started the contract wheels in motion that got the 29-year-old to Red Hill at what is now a "bargain basement" price.
There were plenty of doubters early after Blair made just one hit up and eight metres in just his second game for the Broncos.
Bennett though knew Blair was the man he needed to put some mongrel and sting into his front-row after releasing Ben Hannant, who will be fired up for the Cowboys against his old club.
Civoniceva, who was just starting out on his distinguished career when he won the first of his two premierships with Brisbane in 1998, said Blair would provide the intimidation against North Queensland's power props Matt Scott and James Tamou, who have both played Origin and for Australia.
"Form mine, Scott is still the number one front-rower going around at the moment," said Civoniceva of the player he groomed to take over his Queensland and Australian jumper before retiring.
"When he and Tamou are in the mood, which is often the case in big games, they are so hard to contain or stop.
"But Adam Blair has brought a lot to the Broncos this year, and he plays with a lot of pride.
"I liked the way he and the boys played against the Roosters, they really got amongst them, and Blair rattled them.
"He's got physical presence. I remember when he was signed by the Broncos there was plenty of doubt about the wisdom given his form at the Wests Tigers.
"But if you go back and see the tough edge he gave Melbourne Storm before that you always knew he was a hard, tough, aggressive player."
Civoniceva also predicted fellow Broncos front-rower Sam Thaiday would stand tall on Sunday.
"Big Sammy doesn't always like the front-row, but he is a big-match player and he always rises to the occasion," Civoniceva said.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.