Warriors coach Todd Payten has revealed his frustration at the departure of veteran half Blake Green.

The club confirmed on Monday their move to cut ties with Green immediately, who subsequently penned a deal with the Newcastle Knights.

The move did not come as a huge surprise – Green was reportedly one of three players told last month to leave the club at the season’s end by owner Mark Robinson, and the 33-year-old was told that he had the club’s blessing to leave if he was offered a long-term deal.

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However, Green’s deal with the Knights is only until the end of the 2020 season, and Payten says he was “disappointed with the way it transpired”, with his frustration directed mainly at Green, who he says went to the club earlier this year around their plans for the future.

“He probably got an answer he didn’t really want to hear, it blew up in the media and we just got on with it. He played some really good footy, he handled himself well but a bit of surprise that he wanted to leave,” Payten said on Wednesday.

“He wasn’t really vocal but he said he didn’t want to be here, so that’s what disappointed me the most.”

That frustration is further fuelled by just how fondly Payten viewed the 33-year-old. He describes Green as someone who understands what is needed in certain situations, and is able to make the right plays.

Payten adds there are only a handful of players on the team right now who can do that: “Blake was definitely one of them, Tohu’s the other and Wayde Egan are probably the standouts. There’s probably another three or four that are close to that, but still have their moments where they don’t make the smarter decision given the context of the game.”

Despite his value, Payten knew it was never viable to try and keep Green who, after all, was still under contract with the Mount Smart club until the end of the current season.

“There’s merit in that (retaining Green). I guess you have to treat everyone of those differently,” Payten said.

“But it’s very hard to get them to play at their best if they’re not completely happy.”

It trims the Warriors’ depth in the halves, now with Kodi Nikorima and Chanel Harris-Tavita their likely starting combination. Green’s departure also rids them of a wise head on a team still navigating through a chaotic NRL season.

Payten says now is the time for others to step up, namely Harris-Tavita. The 21-year-old made his first grade debut last year and has garnered a reputation as one of the best young halves in the game.

“He’s going to have to step up,” Payten said.

“But I expect the other guys to step up. Blake was a security blanket for everyone with his talk and direction, and a lot of the times I reckon they sat back and let him take control and were happy to do so. Now he’s gone, there’s definite new feeling and not just Chanel.”

The Warriors will have Nikorima and Harris-Tavita to lean on in their next NRL match, with the pair set to combine against the Manly Sea Eagles tomorrow.

— NZ Herald



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