ANALYSIS: Harlequins' New Fleet-Footed South African Speedster Tyrone Green

ANALYSIS: Harlequins' New Fleet-Footed South African Speedster Tyrone Green

Harlequins announced the signing of promising young fullback/wing, Tyrone Green on Wednesday and while the signing of the young South African may not have caused the same kind of stir of Dan Carter, there is plenty for Harlequins fans to get excited about.

A product of Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg - known for producing 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White and Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi – Green started out as a flyhalf but has since moved to the wing and fullback as he has progressed through the ranks. 


A standout performer for the South African U20s during the 2018 Junior World Championship, Green has since gone on to be a regular starter for the Lions in both Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. The 22-year-old has been tipped for higher honours with his form in this year’s truncated Super Rugby season leading to many suggesting that those honours should come soon rather than later.

Paul Gustard jumped at the opportunity to sign the youngster who he said he had been watching for sometime after Ernst Joubert alerted him to Green's promise. The opportunity to sign Green came thanks to a clause that allowed all South African players the option to cancel their contracts to take up deals abroad rather than take a pay cut and remain in South Africa.

Commenting on the utility back's style of play Gustard noted Green's fight and desire with ball in hand saying: “He fights and twists and turns violently through contact, which is so vital in modern-day rugby"


Looking at some of his footage over the past year this is a massive part of Green's game and is not only a trait that Mike Brown has but can be compared to that of All Black rower Ardie Savea as well as Springboks Brent Russell and Bryan Habana.

A good example of this is Green's carry off a kick off against the Waratahs. The Lions playing an extremely expansive game and although he maybe should have kicked, he shows his strength and twists that Gustard mentions as he manages to go forward despite being hit by three players including a tighthead prop and Wallaby Michael Hooper.


As mentioned before, Green does this regularly and it is a large part of his game. He does well here pre-contact against the Griquas to slide off the defender's shoulder and gain an extra few yards with an extra roll.

Looking through some of Green's carries resemble the likes of utility back Brent Russell who had a very similar approach to the game.

The two players have a very similar style of play with Russell also capable of playing multiple positions across the backline while Russell also refused to go to ground, perfectly depicted in this try against the Wallabies.

Russell was a gifted attacker with excellent footwork and pace, something Gustard again noted about Green: 'He has electric feet and some beautiful skills having developed as a fly-half at junior levels' before he goes on to again mention Green's fight in the contact 'it is his tenacity and fight in contact that really caught my eye.'

Green ticks every one of those boxes with this single carry against the Stormers in Super Rugby.

Again, it's carries likes these that are remanence of Bryan Habana who also paired his pace wonderfully with his fight in the contact and reliance to stay on his feet and go forward.


Although it seems like an odd comparison, Green carries similar to the way Ardie Savea does. He pumps his legs through contact and to gain that extra few metres, by the extra second for his teammates or stay in field.

Green is a highly skilled athlete and has all the attributes to enjoy a fantastic career as an outside back. 

Although it may not be tested as much as in Super Rugby as it will be in the Premiership, Green is superb under the high ball whether it is on attack or defence. 

He displays this by taking an excellent high ball from a cross-kick by Elton Jantjies and again fights for an extra few yards which ultimately leads to the Lions retaining the ball with the Waratahs' pouncing.

   

 

Another great example of his work under the high ball and ability to make sure his side retain the ball with his fight on the ground once he is tackled.

His tenacity and fight in the contact serves him well out wide regularly as he manages to stay in touch more often than not as he did here against the Stormers.

However, that tenacity also extends to his work rate and defence as well. 

Positioned at fullback against the Waratahs, he covers the grubber kick through superbly and is only dragged into touch once three Waratahs drive him into touch.

Finally, a winger will always need the pace out wide and Green certainly has plenty of that!

He shows off that pace as he chased down Blitzbok speedster Seabelo Senatla following a turnover, Seanatla does have slow down his pace to regather the ball but Green still had to turn and chase the winger down and deny him the try.

Green has the same kind of aggression on defence as he does on attack but it is not all brawn for the youngster.

He shown glimpses of intelligent defensive work. He does this again against the Stormers as he forces Dillyn Leyds into making a decision that is not in his nature.

While Leyds is an excellent runner with the ball, he enjoys creating for others around him and had the perfect opportunity to do so here.

The Stormers have a two-man overlap to exploit past Green but he decides to shoot up and close down the space buying an extra second for his support to catch up and make the covering tackle.

Green made himself an integral part of the Lions set up over the past two seasons slotting seamlessly into fullback and wing when required to do so and while he has bagged just two tries in 16 appearances for the Lions, expect him to cross the whitewash often for the Harlequins in seasons to come.

Gustard has a wealth depth in the wider channels at his disposal once the Premiership resumes but the addition of Green to the side certainly brings a different edge to the side while he will certainly benefit hugely from rubbing shoulders with the experienced heads of Mike Brown and Chris Ashton. While the stiff competition for a starting jersey will definitely make him a better player.

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