Storm defence gives Green career perspective
After four years in England's Super League before his return to Australia this season, Storm five-eighth Blake Green's understanding of Melbourne's defensive structures – following their 20-18 qualifying final victory over the Roosters on Friday – has provided perspective on his time away from the NRL.
Melbourne earned a week off and a home preliminary final berth following their two-point win by frustrating the Roosters out of good ball movement and depth out wide combined with their efforts to slow down the ruck.
While Melbourne's wrestling tactics had Roosters' coach Trent Robinson fuming post-game, Green said the functionality of his club's defensive structures has defined the opportunities the Storm have provided him following his return – in a time where aspects of such systems are yet to be brought into the game overseas.
"There isn't a training session where we don't do video, which is cut up and critically analysed on every move we make, so it's a very professional place in Melbourne. Coaches work very hard to give us every opportunity to be the best we can," Green told NRL.com.
"In terms of fitting into the Storm's system I was probably very lucky where I was over at Wigan where [former Storm assistant and Rabbitohs mentor] Michael Maguire brought over a similar blueprint to that club.
"It meant I had a pretty good understanding in terms of structure and things like that. But in terms of the games over here in Australia, the small one-percenters that don't really matter too much over in England definitely do when it comes to big games here."
Often overlooked for his importance to coach Craig Bellamy's team, one which struggled to fill the vacancy of Gareth Widdop in the season prior to Green's arrival, the grateful 28-year-old is hoping to draw from his experiences in some of the biggest games rugby league has to offer to do a job for the Storm in the final weeks of the season.
2013 was one of, if not, the best of Green's career. A member of Wigan's Challenge Cup victory over Hull FC in front of 78,000 people at Wembley Stadium, the Hills District Bulls junior went on to play in the Super League grand final at Old Trafford where he won the Harry Sunderland Trophy for best on ground following the Warriors' victory.
"It's been the best preparation I guess in terms of playing in some of the most intense games you could've asked for so hopefully it's put me in good stead for the rest of this finals series," Green said.
"It was a great experience going over. I played in some very big games in front of some hostile crowds over there.
"I was quite comfortable and happy playing for Wigan and I could've easily stayed – but I didn't want to be 40-years-old sitting at home later in life watching Friday night footy thinking 'what if?' so I'm certainly glad I made the decision to come back."
After forming an exceptional bond with incumbent England halfback Matty Smith, Green said he has been blessed to be able continue his career alongside long-term Australian representative Cooper Cronk.
Forming a close bond in their 21 games together in 2015, Green added it has reached a point where Cronk seeks opinions from him in what is a positive sign for their growing partnership – one that has bred 12 tries and 23 try assists for the Storm this season.
"Obviously I'm really comfortable playing alongside Cooper, I think the past three weeks of footy we have controlled things pretty well together so we'll take the week off and have a look at the game and work really hard," Green said.
"He has been great for me actually. Cooper's obviously one of the best halfbacks the game's seen. He's very happy to give me advice on things and at the same time if I have an opinion on something he'll listen too."