Yorkshire Carnegie scrum half Max Green will cap off an incredible season this Saturday when he starts for England U20 against Ireland in the World Rugby U20 World Championship Final.
England Under 20 scrum-half Max Green could be forgiven a double take at the man simply known as ‘Sir Kev’.
For the past eight months at Yorkshire Carnegie, Green has had the perfect mentor, getting to train and play with one of his childhood heroes – Kevin Sinfield.
Sinfield retired at the end of the campaign after a season at Yorkshire Carnegie having previously captained Leeds Rhinos for 13 years also winning seven Grand Finals, three World Club Challenges and two Challenge Cups.
It was an opportunity for Green to play with one of the greats of the game, an experience he hopes to build on at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Manchester.
"It was pretty amazing, I grew up watching him play," said Green."It was pretty amazing, I grew up watching him play"
“If I think back to five years ago when I used to watch him I never imagined I’d be playing with him, taking advice, receiving calls and speaking to him about the game.
“The past few months playing with him have been amazing. He’s focused and very professional and does the basics well. He strives to get better and that’s what I want from myself, he is a great role model. He keeps pushing the team and motivating them.”
And what was Sinfield’s advice for Green? “Keep doing the basics and have belief,” he reveals.
Size dictated Green spent the early part of his rugby on the wing, but after joining Yorkshire Carnegie as a 15-year-old he soon switched to scrum-half and is determined to make up for lost time.
“I’ve only been playing scrum half for two years now, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do so I’m doing a lot of extra work,” he says.
Green, who enjoyed art at school, describes himself as a creative scrum-half, adding: “I play what I see. I enjoy attacking, when I see front-row props or second-row forwards that I can run at I get excited.
“I just love playing with the lads, they have a type of personality unlike any other sport,” said Green.
“We are a tight unit, we all play for each other, I just love the team vibe and the buzz we have around training. On and off the pitch.”
Green bursts with pride when describing what it is like to play for England. It is a pride that is infectious and offers a little insight into how determined he is to help England U20 succeed in Manchester this weekend.
“You pull on that jersey and you know you are playing for your country,” he said. “You’ve got your team mates beside you, you want to go out and play for them, your family and friends. It sounds like there is a lot of pressure on you but there isn’t because the lads are helping you along the journey. It’s a really special moment and you treasure it. It’s not pressure, it’s pride.”
He describes singing the national anthem as “emotional” and “overwhelming”, returning again to the word “pride”.
“In that time you’re thinking about the game, you’re thinking about doing your family proud, team mates and coaches proud but also doing yourself proud,” he adds.
He added: “We’ve got great potential, we train hard, put the extra hours in and the extra graft, we are always driving each other on to strive and be better."
Green cites England scrum-half and fellow Carnegie Academy graduate Danny Care as a player he admires and jokes he will be watched in Manchester in the Final by “a lot of people from Bradford”, adding: "I think my dad has set up a facebook group." "I think my dad has set up a facebook group"
And the past achievements of previous England Under 20 sides is also not lost on Green, who says it is up to the current squad to create their own legacy.
“It’s here and now,” he says. “Each Under 20 squad changes every year and this is our year to go out there in Manchester and prove what we can do."