Fijian hooker Apisai Koroisau admits he was blindsided by Blake Green’s abrupt exit from the Manly Sea Eagles on Monday, which preceded him signing a deal with the New Zealand Warriors.
Manly announced Green was leaving on the same day Mitchell Pearce was granted a release by the Roosters, and Koroisau found out the news while in camp with Fiji in Brisbane preparing for Friday’s semi-final against Australia.
Green only spent a year at the Sea Eagles after joining from Melbourne, and helped lead the club back to the NRL finals for the first time in three years, striking up an impressive halves combination with Daly Cherry-Evans.
“I was devastated [to hear Green had left], I’m not going to lie,” Koroisau said.
“He was one of the most well-liked blokes around the club. He was always happy and always bringing up the boys and definitely setting off his energy around the place.
“For someone new to come into the club like that and have the effect that he did was massive, now we lose someone with his experience and his playing game.
“I thought he really complemented Cherry-Evans really well. To have that gone is going to be big but I’m sure we’ll find someone hopefully for the role.”
Pearce has been strongly linked with the Sea Eagles and Koroisau said he’d be a welcome addition should the club lure the in-demand halfback to Lottoland.
“He’s a really good player, I know he did get bagged for the way he performed in Origins but he was easily the best halfback in the comp for the first half of this season,” Koroisau said.
“I just love the way he controls the game, he really runs the ball to the line. You really need a half that’s going to take it to the line if you want to create the numbers on the outside.
“His kicking game’s exceptional as well.
“He’s a good player, he’s already had a big career but I think he has a long way to go as well.”
Meanwhile, damaging Fijian back-rower Viliame Kikau has arrived in Brisbane and is expected to line-up in Friday’s semi-final.
Kikau was unable to fly back from New Zealand with his teammates on Sunday due to a visa issue.
Customs officials at Wellington Airport wouldn’t allow Kikau on the flight after discovering his 401 work visa had expired on October 31.
After two extra days in New Zealand, the Panthers forwards rejoined his Fijian teammates on Tuesday afternoon.