The rugby league world is in mourning after the sudden death of Paul Green at 49 years old in his Brisbane home on Thursday morning.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Green had not said anything about feeling ill before his sudden passing, with a post-mortem to determine the cause of his death.
Green had been in Sydney last weekend for the Cronulla ex-players’ reunion, one of five teams the former Australian and Queensland representative halfback played for during his career.
Green had a decorated playing career which spanned 162 games, suiting up for the Cronulla Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta Eels and Brisbane Broncos.
He then made the switch to coaching after he hung up the boots, taking the Cowboys to their first-ever premiership in 2015 before also taking over the Queensland Maroons Origin side.
Former Melbourne Storm and Maroons hooker Cameron Smith called it “shocking news” on SEN Radio.
“A very sad part of the day,” Smith said, reacting to the news alongside Denan Kemp, who was coached by Green in the early stages of his rugby league career.
“It’s certainly rocked myself and Kempy in the studio and everyone in the rugby league world.
“It’s a sad day for everyone involved in the rugby league family and community. We send our best wishes and condolences out to the entire Green family.”
Kemp spent a bit of time learning from Green in the early stages of his career and paid tribute to his ability to turn around Queensland Cup team the Wynnum Seagulls after a challenging start to the season.
“I was fortunate enough, he was my kicking and catching coach when I was coming through at the Broncos and he was also my coach when I was at Wynnum,” Kemp said.
“I had a small amount to do with him but in the time I did, it was actually really interesting the year I was at Wynnum I ended up signing with another club to leave but we had a really tough start to the season. Greeny managed to turn the Wynnum Seagulls around and we won the premiership that year.
“He’s a fighter. It’s a very sad day to see Greeny go like that.”
In a playing and coaching career of many highlights, Green’s greatest would be his role in taking North Queensland to its maiden premiership in 2015.
Green first took the helm at the Cowboys in 2014 and saw immediate results as the Cowboys won the inaugural NRL Auckland Nines tournament.
North Queensland carried the pre-season form into the season proper, finishing in fifth spot on the ladder before being eliminated by the Roosters in dramatic fashion in the semi-finals.
The Cowboys improved to third in the 2015 season and this time around went all the way to the title, taking down the Broncos in a golden-point thriller for the ages.
North Queensland got back to the grand final under Green’s watch in 2017 too, even without legendary halfback Johnathan Thurston, but were outclassed by Melbourne.
Last year Thurston revealed the first conversation he had with Green that led to the drought-breaking title triumph in 2015.
“He arrived to the club in 2014 and I remember the first meeting we had at the Dally M’s of 2013,” Thurston told WWOS.
“He asked me what was the perception of the Cowboys at that time. I said, ‘We’re pretty inconsistent’. He stopped me pretty much and said ‘You can’t win away from home, and you can’t win when you’re on the sidelines’ so what do I need to do to change that?
“We needed to get everyone training to an intensity that is required and he did that, and over those years we went on to win a premiership, make four straight finals and another grand final so he’s a great coach.
“I was bought to the club in 2005 to win a premiership. He got everyone to that level and won that first ever premiership for the club which was great scenes for North Queensland and we’ll never forget it.”
Green said he would “always treasure” the premiership-winning year with the Cowboys upon his exit from the club in 2020.
“I am grateful to the board for allowing me to lead this club whilst creating some lifelong memories,” he said at the time.