Green earns plaudits
Departing heroes Sam Tomkins and Pat Richards led the tributes to Wigan Warriors team-mate Blake Green for his match-winning performance in their sensational 30-16 Grand Final triumph over Warrington Wolves.
Medical staff administered oxygen on the pitch after Green was floored by a punch from Warrington's England forward Ben Westwood just two minutes into Saturday night's Super League decider at Old Trafford.
But the 27-year-old Australian stand-off recovered to play a crucial role in the Warriors' fightback, scoring one of their five tries as they came from 16-2 down to complete a rare Super League and Challenge Cup double.
"I saw his eyes rolling in the back of his head and I thought he was gone," Richards said. "I patted him on the back and said 'Come on mate, we need you here'. I told him he needed to tough this out and he did, turning in a man-of-the-match performance. I think if he goes off there, we lose."
Tomkins revealed he had been told by assistant coach Paul Deacon to prepare for a switch from his full-back role in anticipation of a reshuffle and was delighted to see Green eventually get to his feet.
"My first thoughts were I'd better learn how to play stand-off very quickly," he said. "Paul Deacon came on and said we're making a few changes but he got up and I was thinking 'I'd really like him to finish this game'.
"What character he showed, to have his eye busted after two minutes! You can teach players how to catch and pass and kick but you can't teach character. Without him we wouldn't have won."
Green played down his heroics but admitted it was a "surreal" feeling after helping the Warriors become only the third club - the first for seven years - to do the double, all in his first season following his move from Hull KR.
"I don't remember anything about it (the punch)," he said. "I haven't seen it actually so I can't really comment.
"I wasn't knocked out but, when I hit the ground I felt a bit of impact on my eye and the doctor wanted me to stay down and make sure I could breathe properly. It was just precaution really. There was no way I was coming off.
"I was glad I stayed out there because it was cool to play an important part of the win for the team.
"I can't really put it into words how I feel. It's what you dream about, playing in finals and winning the man of the match. and for it to all fall into place is just surreal."
Wigan's second Grand-Final win in four years provided a fitting farewell for Tomkins, Richards and Lee Mossop, whose next club matches will be in the NRL.
Warrington looked sure to lift their first league title for 58 years when three tries in eight minutes from Joel Monaghan, Simon Grix and Westwood opened up a 14-point lead but a second lengthy break in play to enable winger Joel Monaghan to receive treatment for concussion just before the break enabled Wigan to regroup.
Tomkins said: "We made it hard for ourselves but we were confident and, when Monaghan went down injured, I spoke to a few of the boys and said 'Look, put our plays on and we'll score'.
"Two tackles later, Darrell (Goulding) crashes over and we're going into half-time really positive."
Second-half tries from Michael McIlorum, Josh Charnley - his 43rd of the year - and Green completed the biggest comeback in the 18 years of Super League Grand Finals and it was hugely appropriate that Richards applied the finishing touches with the game's final try as he brought to an end his glorious eight-year spell at Wigan.
The try lifted Richards above St Helens winger Ade Gardner into sixth place in Super League's list of all-time leading tryscorers with 147.
The Australia-born Ireland international, who was Super League's Man of Steel in 2010, then kicked his fifth goal of the match to round off his Wigan career with a massive 2,468 points from 224 appearances.
"Pat has been an unbelievable servant for this club and he deserves every single bit of credit, accolade and praise," Tomkins said.
"We've had too many Aussies come and go in Super League, be average and take money from players who probably deserved it more. But Pat has been a brilliant servant for the club and I think we should be lucky to have had him for eight years."