I was always headed to the back row: Green
Resurgent Manly back-rower Nathan Green says a mid-career shift from centre to the pack was inevitable, even if it came sooner than he expected.
The 24-year-old played 22 games in four seasons for the Dragons before his 2016 move to the northern beaches, and played almost all of those in the centres.
His six NRL games this year have all come in the back row and it's where Green says he will stay.
"I started at centres but I won't ever go back there unless I have to in a game if someone gets injured; I'm a complete back-rower now, I just want to stay there," Green said.
"It's a good change not having to go looking for the ball because the ball comes looking for you basically in the back row! It's a lot more work in the back row but I enjoy that, it's a lot more fun."
An impressive pre-season both on the training paddock and at the Auckland Nines convinced new coach Trent Barrett to start the Renown United junior in Round 1 but after two games he was sent back to the Intrust Super Premiership to build his confidence and work on developing as a back-rower before returning to the top side for the most recent four games, including the last three straight wins.
"I had a good pre-season, 'Baz' (coach Trent Barrett) showed a lot of confidence in me picking me Round 1 but it just wasn't meant to be," Green said.
"He dropped me back to NSW Cup to get some confidence back and just to get used to playing back row and taking it from there, playing some good footy three. Chad Randall and Luke Williamson (ISP co-coaches) have been good for me there.
"I got the call back up four weeks ago and just hopefully going to try and stay in there the rest of the year now and play some good consistent first grade."
Of his shift closer in to the middle of the field, Green confessed he was never the quickest centre to begin with, despite having played three NRL games on the wing for the Dragons in his time there.
"I just got bigger and I think it was always inevitable that I was going to end up in the back row, whether it was a couple more years, it came quicker than I thought it was going to be," he said.
"But I enjoy playing back row and it's not too much different to centres, you get your early ball… your line running's the most important bit to try and create some space for blokes like Jorge to score some tries I think that's the key."
NRL.com also couldn't resist the chance to quiz the impressively bearded red-head about his burgeoning ginger face-forest, and learned it started as a friendly rivalry with a Manly staffer and turned into something of a good luck charm that annoys his better half.
"I guess when I first came here I had a little bit of a beard but that bloke driving in that white car right there (Green pointed towards magnificently-bearded strength and conditioning coach Dan Ferris as he drove past mid-interview), he's got the biggest beard out of anyone," Green said.
"So we started having a little contest and I kept it going. He's got me covered but we've got it rolling now so we've just got to keep it going while we're winning. The missus hates it though."
Disappointingly, Green is not a Game of Thrones fan but has since been made aware of his visual similarity to popular 'Thrones' character Tormund Giantsbane (Google it and you'll see what we mean).
"I'm not [a fan] but I've been sent the photo of that bloke, Jorge [Taufua] sent me the photo, I didn't know who it was," Green laughed.
The good-luck beard has a chance to make it four straight wins when Manly host the Knights on Sunday afternoon which Green said will be a big occasion.
"It's always good winning games but we're not getting ahead of ourselves, we lost seven in a row. Newcastle's going to be a tough test for us this week," he said.
"It's Golden Eagle day on Sunday, we're looking forward to Old Boys Day, it's going to be a big game on Sunday at Brooky and we know we have to turn up."