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NRL legend endured ‘tough’ year before shock death

NRL icon Paul Green endured the toughest year of his life before his tragic death rocked the rugby league community.

The 49-year-old was found dead at his home in Brisbane on Thursday morning, the day after his son’s ninth birthday.

Green’s death comes 11 months after he stood down as Maroons head coach following last year’s State of Origin series thrashing of Queensland, which included a 50-6 rout of the Blues.

Green has only filled the role for a year, but still calls it “every Queenslander’s dream”.

Paul Green with his wife Amanda Green. Picture: Zak SimmondsSource: News Corp Australia

He sold the family home in Townsville for $1.85 million last February and admits it was difficult to leave the place where his two children Jade and Emerson grew up.

“Moving on a family is very difficult and difficult,” he said at the time.

Green is keen on a return to the NRL and has spoken to Wayne Bennett about joining the Dolphins.

After all, despite losing to the Maroons, this is the man who led the North Queensland Cowboys to their first ever Grand Final in 2015.

Former Cowboys chairman Lawrence Lancini told News Corp. Green seemed fine three days ago when he said they should have a beer soon.

But Lancini said, “The last few years have been tough on the green.”

“Greeny said he wanted to coach again and he had some options and I asked Greeny if he really wanted to go back to it,” Lancini said.

The Maroons’ Daley Cherry-Evans and coach Paul Green celebrate winning the 2021 home state trio (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“I said Paul, the last club you coached, you took the Cowboys to a premiership and two grand finals. Just quit coaching and do something else.

“But Greeny still had that real drive. He wanted to train again.

“Greenie has gone from coaching the club to the Premier League and their second Grand Final. He coached his native country. He has coached at a high level and I think Greeney is a bit lost and confused as to where his life should be without his coach.

“The thing about Greenie was that he was an overachiever and overachievers always want to achieve something.

“The last few years have been a bit tough on him not having coached in the NRL.

“I told Greenie, just take your time and the right opportunity will come.”

Cowboys coach Paul Green and Johnathan Thurston celebrate after the Cowboys won the 2015 NRL Grand Final. Photo: Brett CostelloSource: News Corp Australia

Despite his less-than-perfect year, Green seemed happy to chat to reporters this weekend as he caught up with former Cronulla Sharks players.

The talented halfback played 95 times for the Sharks, as well as playing for the Cowboys, Roosters, Eels and Broncos.

The rugby league world was quick to pay tribute to Green and a number of former players continued to pay tribute to him on Thursday night.

Johnathan Thurston sealed the Cowboys’ epic grand final run with a field goal in 2015.

Thurston flew down to Sydney for Channel 9 to commentate on Thursday night’s game between Penrith and the Melbourne Storm but was so upset by the news that he flew straight to Townsville.

“Our colleague Johnathan Thurston was meant to be with us,” James Bracey told the Channel 9 broadcast.

“We send our condolences to the injured JT.”

Paul Green playing for the Cronulla Sharks in an NRL match on March 14, 1998Source: News Corp Australia

League legend Cameron Smith added: “I spent a couple of hours with JT this afternoon. Like many of his players and teammates in Paul Green’s Cowboys outfit, he was devastated.

We would like to send our best wishes to all the players and especially to our colleague JT. He is now flying home to be with his family.

We feel for you mate, and we wish you all the best, as does the entire rugby league community with Paul Green and his family.

In the year

“It’s a really sad day for rugby league and everyone in the rugby league community who was affected by Paul Green in some way and what he was able to do,” Parker said on Fox League.

“It was a lot for a lot of people.

“To me personally, Greenie was a teammate, he was a coach, and most of all, he was a great and wonderful friend. My deepest condolences to Amanda, (sons) Emerson and Jade, and their families.”

Former NRL star Denan Kemp says coaching at Green hit home for him.

“I was lucky enough, he was my kicking and catching coach when I came through the Broncos and he was my coach when I was at Wynnum,” he told SEN.

“I had a little bit of contact with him but when I did, it was great fun the year I was at Wynnum. I started to sign for another club to leave but it was very difficult during the season. Greene managed to turn the Wynnum Seaguls around and we won the Premier League that year.

“He’s a fighter. It’s a sad day to see Greenie go like that.”

Broadcaster Ray Hadley was shocked by the news: “Shocked, Paul Green has tragically passed away. Just horrible, absolutely horrible.

He also paid tribute to his former teammate Martin.

“This is so sad,” he tweeted. “Paul was a close friend, we moved to Sydney together in 1993…the start of a great NRL playing/coaching career. My deepest condolences to Paul’s wife, children and dear mother and father. Rest in peace my friend.”

Current North Queensland halfback Chad Townsend posted on Twitter: “RIP Paul Green. Thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.

Paul Green with his wife Amanda.Source: News Corp Australia

“We are deeply saddened today,” Green’s family said in a statement Thursday morning.

“We have lost a devoted husband, a loving father and a wonderful brother and son. We cannot find the words to express our feelings, but we are grateful to those who reached out to us with their love and support.

“Paul was loved by many and we know this news will cause great interest, but we ask for privacy at this time.

“Our family is still trying to come to terms with this tragedy and we ask for time and space to process this loss. Thank you.”

A Queensland Police spokeswoman said: “Police were called to a Wynnum residence just after 10am today after a 49-year-old woman was found unresponsive.

“He was pronounced dead by emergency personnel a short time later. There are no suspicious circumstances. A report will be prepared for the investigation.

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