Former Queensland State of Origin coach and rugby league star Paul Green has died aged 49.
- His family are “devastated”, saying they had lost a “devoted husband, loving rather and wonderful brother and son”
- Players and NRL clubs have paid tribute to Green, who spent a decade playing at the top level
- He has been remembered as a brilliant player and “a passionate, smart and witty individual
The Green family released a statement on Thursday afternoon, saying they were “devastated.”
“We have lost a devoted husband, loving father and wonderful brother and son,” the statement said.
“We cannot find the words that would come close to expressing our feelings, however we would like to extend our thanks to those who have reached out to us with their love and support.
“Paul was loved by so many and we know that this news will generate immense interest, however at this time we ask for privacy. Our family is still trying to understand this tragedy and we request space and time as we come to terms with this loss.” . Thank you.”
Green is survived by his wife Amanda and children Emerson and Jed. It’s been confirmed he took his own life from him.
Police said they were called to a Wynnum residence just after 10am this morning after a 49-year-old male was located unresponsive.
He was declared deceased by emergency crews a short time later.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances and a report will be prepared for the coroner.
Green played more than 100 NRL games, debuting with the Cronulla Sharks in 1994 before moving to the North Queensland Cowboys in 1999.
The quick-thinking and gritty half-back went on to play stints at the Roosters, Eels and Broncos, and represented the Maroons 10 times.
He played for Australia twice during the Super League era, and also led the Sharks to the Super League grand final in 1997, where they lost to the Broncos.
After finishing his playing career in Brisbane in 2004, Green immediately moved into an assistant role with the Broncos, and had stints in the Queensland Cup with Wynnum Manly, before leading the Roosters’s under-20s to the preliminary finals in 2013.
He got his first NRL head coaching gig the following year when he took over from Neil Henry at the North Queensland Cowboys.
I have coached the Cowboys for 167 games over a six-year period and the Queensland side in the 2021 State of Origin series.
Cowboys chairman Lewis Ramsay paid tribute to Green’s decorated history with the club and the impact he made.
“Paul first came to our club as a player in the late 90s and was the club’s first Origin representative, but his lasting legacy emanated from his seven-season tenure as head coach of the North Queensland Cowboys,” Mr Ramsey said.
“Paul’s arrival as head coach transformed our club from finals contenders to an immediate premiership force, culminating in the historic 2015 Grand Final victory.
“We will forever remember Paul as one of the greatest contributors in Cowboys history.”
Green’s former teammate at Cronulla, Martin Lang, paid tribute to his friend on Twitter.
“This is so sad. Paul was a close mate, we moved to Sydney together in 1993… the beginning of an outstanding NRL playing/coaching career.
“My sincere condolences to Paul’s wife, children and his dear mum and dad.
“Rest In Peace mate.”
‘Smart, witty singles’
Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys called Green “a brilliant player” in a statement released by the NRL.
“Throughout his career had a reputation as a halfback who was as tough as he was skilful. Paul was rewarded with the Rothmans Medal in 1995,” V’landys said.
“As a coach he led the North Queensland Cowboys to one of the most famous grand final victories of all time – against Brisbane Broncos in 2015.
“He represented Queensland and Australia as a player, and only last year coached the Maroons in the State of Origin series.
“I had the pleasure of sitting on the NRL Competition Committee and found Paul to be a passionate, smart and witty individual. Our condolences go to his family and to his many friends.”
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said the league was “deeply saddened” and extended “deepest condolences to Paul’s family, his friends, and those who have been inspired and mentored by him over the course of his long career.”
Former NRL boss Todd Greenberg said he was “so sad” to hear of Green’s death.
“I enjoyed some time with him recently and he was in great spirits and looking forward to the next phase of his life. Tragic news. Sending love and best wishes to his family,” Greenberg said.
Queensland Rugby League chairman Bruce Hatcher said Green is “sadly missed”.
“I’d say he’s left an indelible mark across Queensland, with the players he’s coached, the young boys that he grew into young men,” he said.
Former assistant coach, clubs pay tribute
Former assistant coach to Green, Josh Hannay, said he was “shocked and devastated” to hear of his death just five days after they caught up at a Cronulla Sharks reunion.
“We had a good chat, we spoke about the future, and how much he was looking forward to what was in store for himself professionally,” Hannay said.
“It’s just devastating.”
Hannay said Green seemed healthy and was in “good spirits” at the weekend.
“He was his normal self, the life of the party, he had a good day catching up with old friends,” he said.
Wests Tigers half-back Jackson Hastings said on Twitter: “Can’t believe the Paul Green news this morning. Achieved it all as a player and coach still had so much to give, taken way to soon. Thoughts and prayers with family and friends .Makes you realize to take nothing for granted.RIP.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was “shocked and saddened” by the footballer’s death.
“Deepest condolences to his friends and family,” she tweeted.
Opposition leader David Crisafulli, who was previously the member for Mundingburra in North Queensland, said Green was a “Maroon through and through.”
“He was a wonderful player but his greatest achievement came as a coach when he guided the Cowboys to a maiden premiership in 2015,” he said on Twitter.
Numerous NRL clubs paid tribute to Green, who spent a decade playing at the top level.