“I’ve heard such good raps on him from other players at other clubs, but as a player he’s just really calm, really smart. He freed us up tonight. I’m just glad we’ve got Greenie for the rest of the year.”
Knights coach Adam O’Brien added: “There’s a reason why he’s been at so many clubs, it’s because he gets his job done everywhere he goes.
“He’s just an easy guy to like – as Junior [Pearce] said, he hasn’t had that much to do with him but I can already see them two at training this week spending a lot of time afterwards. They look like the perfect couple at the moment.”
Up until Saturday night, Kurt Mann has been Newcastle’s best player. For so long a victim of his own versatility, this year he finally made the No.6 jersey his own. In unselfishly giving it up, the former Dragon may have made Newcastle’s spine even more potent. It took three dummy-half injuries to finally shift him but, like Green, he has taken to his new home.
This win was every bit as comprehensive as the 44-4 scoreline suggests. The Knights posted eight tries. Wests Tigers’ only try was a fortuitous one, via a kick ricochet.
The previous evening, it appeared Rabbitoh Mark Nicholls, off the back of a tap restart, scored the softest try of the season. Kalyn Ponga scored a double against the Tigers, both of which are strong new contenders.
The Novacastrians have emerged from a mini slump which, left unhalted, could have resulted in them falling out of the top eight. It is a destination that is again beyond their opponents.
These are dark days for the Tigers. Coach Michael Maguire, forced to deny he was seeking greener pastures, has chopped and changed his side in a bid to find 17 men capable of getting the job done. The result has been one win in six weeks.
Things are likely to get worse before they get better. Their next assignment is against Canterbury before embarking on a horror run home against the Roosters, Panthers, Sea Eagles, Rabbitohs, Storm, Eels and Parramatta. If they don’t improve on this insipid effort, regardless of how Maguire rotates his cattle, they won’t win again this season.
Round 13 has been an unhappy one for the milestone men. Des Hasler’s team couldn’t do it for him in game 400. Chris Lawrence and Benji Marshall also had nothing to celebrate in their 250th matches (in the NRL and for the Tigers, respectively). Marshall was targeted in defence and twice missed tackles that directly resulted in opposition tries. He is no certainty to add to his games tally against the Bulldogs.
There could be at least one other change after Billy Walters (suspected medial) failed to finish the game.
This was a night to forget for the Tigers. But, as ever, perspective is required. Adam Doueihi, of Lebanese heritage, cried uncontrollably at full-time. This was a difficult week on deeper levels.
“Those sorts of things play a part,” Maguire said.
“He’s pretty passionate, Adam. He’s been a junior at Wests Tigers and he wants the club up where we all want it.
“When you’re going through these periods, he showed a bit of passion about what the game means to him. I can assure you every single player in that change room is feeling the same.”
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Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.