Blake Green to get the best out of Johnson
The waiting game is over and New Zealand Warriors recruit Blake Green is relishing the prospect of playing alongside Shaun Johnson and ensuring their partnership is a success.
Based on the 31-year-old's recent liaisons, you'd back him in.
Success has followed Green in recent years.
He was grand final man of the match when he inspired Wigan to a Super League title in 2013. He filled a crucial halves role with distinction at the Melbourne Storm for two seasons and played in the Telstra Premiership grand final in 2016. Last season he assisted the Manly Sea Eagles as the club reached the finals again after two lean years.
Green, who was granted a release from the final year of his Manly deal to join the Warriors for three seasons, has also a proven ability of playing alongside halves with different styles.
You couldn't find two more contrasting approaches than Daly Cherry-Evans and Cooper Cronk but Green complemented both seamlessly.
Green will have to wait until Johnson returns in the new year to train alongside him but said playing alongside Cherry-Evans was a good lead-in.
"I enjoyed playing with Chez and he has similarities to Shaun," Green told NRL.com.
"Both are really instinctive footy players and gifted runners of the footy and the more we can get the ball in Shaun's hands in space and allow him to play what he sees the better we will go as a team.
"Shaun is a super talent and my job is to get the best out of him and the boys around me.
"That is part of the challenge of coming over here, to manage the game and put some of the really gifted individuals in our team in the best position possible to enable them to do their thing."
Warriors coach Stephen Kearney said Green was a throwback in many respects and a "real footy head" who had the composure and nous to complement Johnson to perfection.
"I know Greeny pretty well through some mutual friends and he is an energiser and a guy who, if you want to sit down and talk footy all day, he will," Kearney said.
"I believe he will help Shaun and our younger halves and he will take a lot of responsibility away from Shaun, which I'm sure he feels all the time, in terms of having to come up with the big play or the winning play.
"Blake will get the team around the park and allow Shaun to do what he does well.
"The balance of the two will be a positive for Shaun and the team.
"Those footy-head type people help those around them and after Blake was here at training a week I could see already the difference his presence had made."
Green had to wait a while for his release and while not ideal he said that was "part and parcel of the game".
"These things can happen quickly or slowly but you've got to be patient," he said.
"I had a year to go at Manly but they indicated they weren't going to take that any further, whereas the Warriors wanted me on board for three years and to bring what I brought to Manly and be a leader.
"This was a great opportunity for me and my family to come over to New Zealand and dive into a club that is just searching for the right balance.
"We've got plenty of good young kids and they've brought in Gerard Beale, Tohu Harris and Adam Blair, along with the leaders they have already like Simon Mannering, Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] and Shaun. It's an exciting time to be part of the club."
Green said with Kearney as coach, Cameron George as the new CEO and with Alex Corvo on board as head conditioner, the club had "the right people in the right roles".
This will be Green's eighth club since he started his NRL career with the Parramatta Eels in 2007 but he has relished the challenges of constantly moving around.
"I've enjoyed that because it has kept me fresh and meant that I've always had to be on the ball," he said.
"In pre-seasons you don't get a chance to get stale. I've got to be at my best at each training session because some clubs don't know what to expect from me day-to-day, and those challenges have helped me progress as a footy player.
"Playing in the big games at Wigan taught me how to handle the big occasions and pressure. At Melbourne I learned from three of the best the game has seen in terms of tactics, subtlety with the footy, understanding momentum and how to control games.
"Going to Manly they gave me a license to play on the ball and control the style of footy we played to free up some of the individuals to be able to really play and run the ball.
"Now I can't wait to be challenged at the Warriors."