Parra homecoming for Storm's Green
Blake Green once had the job of fetching the footy around Pirtek Stadium but on Sunday he will be responsible for controlling it.
More than a decade ago Green was a wide-eyed kid on the NRL touchline, returning footballs for the Eels. He was in awe of his hero Nathan Cayless who lived a stone's throw from the family home.
Green got his chance with the Eels in 2007, playing six games before completing stints with the Sharks, Bulldogs and even four years in the English Super League.
Now the rejuvenated five-eighth will be wearing purple for his Parramatta homecoming and while it has been a long time since he called it home, Sunday's clash still holds a special meaning for the 28-year-old.
"I grew up a Parramatta fan from Western Sydney. I was ball boy for them when I was a young kid, about 14," Green said.
"With Nathan Cayless and Nathan Hindmarsh I always looked up to them as a kid growing up, they were pretty special players to me so it will be good to go back there.
"I've got good memories of the place as a Parramatta junior obviously. I did a lot of training as a kid there so it was one of my favourite grounds to play at. I'm looking forward to getting back there and I'm going to have plenty of family and friends there so it will be great."
Melbourne will make the trip buoyed by the return of star fullback Billy Slater, who appears to have recovered from the shoulder injury that has sidelined him for the past month.
The 15 Storm players who stepped out for last week's Representative Round will not return to the main group until Thursday, just three days before facing the Eels.
However Green is confident the unusual preparation will not be a factor by game time.
"Our preparation probably hasn't started as it normally would because we've got a large number of boys that aren't back at training so it is important that they get some rest," Green said.
"For the boys that are here, we've looked at some vision and have got stuck into training this morning so we are well aware of what is coming back at us this week.
"It was a tough eight-week block there so it was good to have a few days off, although we had 15 boys playing rep footy so they didn't get to freshen up but I was lucky enough to have a few days off so I am ready to go this week."
The Storm face the Eels at 4pm this Sunday at Pirtek Stadium.