From facing Poland in Swedish colours to confronting Toulouse in the Heineken Cup, Bath scrum-half Max Green tells Ali Stokes about his road less travelled
Bath scrum-half Max Green on his rugby journey
The road less travelled is certainly an appropriate way to describe the path traversed by Bath scrum-half and Yorkshire Carnegie Academy product Max Green, who went from representing Sweden U18 as a 16-year-old fly-half to facing up against European powerhouses Toulouse in the Heineken Champions Cup last month.
Green, 22, may not have been one of the most eye-catching additions to the Gallagher Premiership in the past year given the abundance of star names migrating to the top tier of English rugby.
However, for all the Charles Piutaus and Lima Sopoagas drawing headlines, Green will have caught the attention of more people following his Champions Cup debut at the Rec.
Born and raised in Yorkshire, he qualified for Sweden through his mother and was already visiting the Scandinavian nation most Christmases and summers in his youth.
Whilst in the hunt for a spot in Carnegie’s academy, Green was contacted by the Swedish Rugby Union, which had learnt that the Yorkshire County U15 player was eligible, and he accepted the offer to link up with Sweden for a three-day camp.
“They (Sweden) sent me an email saying that they’d heard I’d got a bit of Swedish blood in me,” Green says. “And they were interested in me coming over for a camp. I think it was an U18 camp and I was about 15 at the time.
“I went over in the summer, saw the family and then went up to the U18 training camp, which lasted for about three days in Enköping – a tiny little village but they love their rugby there.
“It was decent, it was something different. I wasn’t on the England radar at the time or anything like that. I was very young and just trying to enjoy my rugby. I thought it was a good bit of fun, to be honest.”
After getting his first taste of an international set-up against Denmark, Green went on to face the likes of Poland and Spain as well as tour with his adopted national side to Grenoble.
His talent was later spotted by England and he was part of the U20 side that won the Junior World Cup in Manchester. By then he was a scrum-half, but he actually entered the Carnegie Academy and Sweden U18 side as a young stand-off.
“It’s actually where I first started out,” Green explains. “I basically played all over but just found myself at ten, it was where I felt most comfortable. But then I was moved to nine because they couldn’t really see me progressing as a ten.
“It was a good move for me, I was happy with it. I understood the role of it. The passing wasn’t hard, it was just the kicking game and my game understanding that took quite a while to catch up.
“I was doing a lot of extra sessions with a coach who was a good family friend, called Joe Bestford. I’d go Tuesdays and Thursdays to a local club called Sandal and do two hours with him, just passing and kicking, making sure my skill-set was up to scratch.”
Green’s breakthrough campaign for Carnegie came the season after his final positional switch, establishing himself as a regular first-team player at the age of 19, and then moving to Bath last November.
Green is amongst a plethora of Yorkshire products to establish themselves in the Premiership and is joined by two of his former Carnegie colleagues at Farleigh House.
Hooker Jack Walker and centre Max Wright also emerged from Green’s age group, while Northampton Saints and England tighthead Paul Hill and Harlequins loosehead Lewis Boyce also rose from the same crop of Yorkshire youngsters.
“They (Carnegie) had a really good pathway at the time in the way they were managing it. They had the partnership with Prince Henry’s Grammar School, which had the age programme based there.
“They kept the squad together. We went to school together, we were in lessons together, we were training together, so we were quite a tight bunch of lads.
“We were always really trying to push ourselves as players around each other, so it was a really good environment to be in.”
At Bath, there is plenty of competition at scrum-half – Samoan international Kahn Fotuali’i, Will Chudley, who helped Exeter win the Premiership in 2017, Chris Cook (100+ Bath appearances) and former London Irish man (120+ apps) Darren Allinson.
Yet Green’s game time has increased significantly this season, with Fotuali’i and Chudley both ruled out with injuries early in the campaign.
“I’ve been quite lucky, to be honest,” Green admits. “I didn’t really expect to play as many games as I have. I’ve tried to push Chris Cook for a spot, and I guess I have.
“I mean, the competition is fierce, but we all get on, on and off the pitch. It’s more of a healthy competition really.”
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