The bigger the game, the simpler you need to play – that's the message five-eighth Blake Green has been preaching to the Warriors ahead of Saturday's sudden-death NRL finals clash against Penrith.
The 31-year-old playmaker is primed to return to face the Panthers at Sydney's ANZ Stadium after missing the last two matches with a calf strain suffered during the Warriors defeat to the Bulldogs on August 19.
Green knows all about big matches after playing in Melbourne's 2016 grand final defeat to Cronulla before steering Manly through to week one of the playoffs last season, while he also enjoyed a Super League grand final win with Wigan back in 2013.
He has made an immediate impact at the Warriors this season and ahead of the club's first finals appearance since 2011, Green's advice to his less experienced teammates has been to focus on doing the basics well.
"We've spoken about how the bigger the game, the simpler it is," said Green.
"It's still the same game. Obviously there's a bigger prize at the end of it and pressure and bigger crowd and all sorts of things.
"But it's a simple game, footy, so the bigger the game the simpler the game plan I reckon.
"We've just got to enjoy the week for what it is and play with plenty of energy and enthusiasm and bring what we've been doing really well this year.
"We've based our game on energy and defence and our kick-chase and little things like that. All of those little things are just magnified in big games so it's important that we keep our focus on those things and be ready because any of those little moments can change the momentum in a game."
The Warriors met the Panthers twice through the regular season with their first encounter ending in an embarrassing 36-4 loss at Penrith Stadium, before they turned the tables with a 36-16 victory in Auckland a fortnight ago.
Preparing for the pressure cooker environment of finals football is a new experience for the majority of the squad, but Green says they need to enjoy the build-up and go into the playoffs full of confidence.
"The boys that haven't been there don't know what's coming but hopefully a lot of energy and enthusiasm takes us a long way," he said.
"We've put ourselves in this position and w
"I'm really proud of what we've done this year. We've played some really good footy at times and earned everything we've got and we're in the knock-out stages so we've got to go as hard as we can."
The Sydney-born playmaker and his young family are enjoying life in New Zealand and his popularity within the Warriors was reflected in him winning the Clubman of the Year at their annual awards night on Sunday.
Along the way this season, Green has picked up a Maori nickname, 'Kakariki', although debate rages within the side as to how he earned it.
"He came out and said he was going to start calling himself Kaka's," claimed senior forward Adam Blair.
"Well, originally it was Kakariki, but we changed it just to Kaka's. He's the man around here, old Kaka's.
"But he's a great leader and does some great things for us so it will be nice to have him back this week."
Green disputes that account and despite remaining wary of the implications of the abbreviated version insists he is fond of his new title.
"That's not true at all. That's a huge gee up," he said. "Someone put it on social media earlier in the year and one of the boys snapped a photo of it and chucked it on our group chat and it's just taken off.
"I haven't given it to myself, clearly not. Blairy shortens it to Kak's sometimes which makes it sound a bit the other way.
"But to be honest, I like it. I don't mind it. It's pretty good and a bit of a laugh."