Veteran playmaker Blake Green says he is “settling in nicely” to the Kiwi lifestyle, his new team and – most importantly for Warriors fans – his role alongside star halfback Shaun Johnson.
Having enjoyed a career spanning more than a decade across six clubs, in the southern and northern hemispheres, Green will look to add much-needed stability to a Warriors spine now without five-eighth Kieran Foran.
The Warriors have historically struggled to sell marquee Australian talent on a move across the Tasman, however relocating is nothing new for Green.
Since his Telstra Premiership debut for the Parramatta Eels in 2007, the now 31-year-old playmaker has enjoyed stints with the Cronulla Sharks, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Hull KR, Wigan, Melbourne Storm and last season with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
“It’s been great coming over here. It’s not foreign for me to leave Australia – I did four years up in the UK and really enjoyed my time there. We had some success and I’m hoping for something similar over here,” he said.
That success included winning a Super League title with Wigan in 2013.
Since returning to the NRL, Green has played alongside two Australian and Queensland representatives in Cooper Cronk and established a strong combination last year with Sea Eagles skipper Daly Cherry-Evans.
This season he will partner Johnson in the halves and though injury has limited their time together on the training paddock in the off-season, Green said there were encouraging early signs.
“Shaun is a super talent. We haven’t had a lot of time together given he had an operation on his eye, but it’s coming along nicely now,” he said.
“We won’t know a lot until we play some games together but in training at least, things are starting to come together.”
Green will likely handle the bulk of the playmaking responsibilities at the Warriors, taking pressure off Johnson and allowing the 2014 Golden Boot winner to play his natural attacking game.
“I think that will be the plan, yeah,” Green said.
“We haven’t locked into any sides of the field or anything like that just yet though.”
If coach Stephen Kearney elects to split his halves like he did last year and play Green on the left, he will be alongside a familiar face in fellow recruit, Tohu Harris.
“I really enjoyed playing on the left in Melbourne alongside Tohu, he makes me feel safe. He’s a big bear, he looks after you on defence that’s for sure.
“Across the board we have some real big athletic ball carriers in this team so hopefully I can get them the ball in space and if everyone is playing their role and doing their part for the team I’m sure we will be OK.”
Off the field, Green and his young family are enjoying adjusting to life in Auckland.
And while the odd Kiwi phrase like “chur” and “tumeke” (too much) have rubbed off on him, Green says he was still a while away from attempting a solo haka.
“A few of the boys have tossing a few things like that up but jeez, I’ll give it a go if I have to, I suppose.”
The Warriors face Melbourne in their first trial this Saturday at Rotorua International Stadium.