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Sports stars’ tributes flow after the tragic death of legendary NRL player and coach Paul Green

NRL players, coaches and fans have expressed tremendous shock and grief after legendary figure Paul Green died Thursday at his Brisbane home, aged just 49.

The death of the former halfback – who won one of the highest honors in the sport as a player when he received the Rothmans Medal in 1995 – has plunged the football world into mourning.

He famously coached the Cowboys to their first-ever premiership in 2015, playing 162 NRL games in addition to representing Queensland and Australia.

Paul Green grabs the Provan-Summons Trophy after the Cowboys won the 2015 NRL premiership

Paul Green grabs the Provan-Summons Trophy after the Cowboys won the 2015 NRL premiership

Green played 95 games for the Sharks after moving from Queensland

Green played 95 games for the Sharks after moving from Queensland

Green played 95 games for the Sharks after moving from Queensland

Players have flooded social media with heartbreaking tributes.

Tigers star Jackson Hastings wrote he “couldn’t believe the news,” while Cowboys half Chad Townsend said his “thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.”

Green’s former teammate and close friend Martin Lang said the news was “so sad” after revealing that the pair had moved to Sydney together in 1993 to embark on the duo’s elite rugby league careers.

Paul Green played and coached Queensland, and will be sorely missed in the Sunshine State

Paul Green played and coached Queensland, and will be sorely missed in the Sunshine State

Paul Green played and coached Queensland, and will be sorely missed in the Sunshine State

Former Parramatta player turned business mogul Peter Wynn wrote that he was “saddened” by the tragic death, while former NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said he had recently spent some time with Green.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys called him a “passionate, smart and witty individual” in an official NRL media report, while current CEO Andrew Abdo said many were “inspired and guided by him”.

“Paul was a brilliant player and then became one of the few to make a very successful transition into coaching,” said V’landys.

‘I had the pleasure of being a member of the NRL Competition Committee and found Paul to be a passionate, smart and witty person. Our condolences go out to his family and to his many friends.’

Prominent politicians also expressed grief over Green’s death, with Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk writing that she was “shocked and saddened” to hear the tragic news.

Federal Sports Minister Anika Wells wrote that Green “has shaped the lives of so many young league players”, while Palaszczuk’s deputy Steven Miles called Green a “great Queenslander”.

Queensland Government Opposition Leader David Crisafulli noted that Green’s greatest achievement came as a coach when he led the Cowboys to their first premiership in 2015.

Queensland Police were called to Green’s family’s home in Wynnum, east Brisbane, just after 10 a.m. Thursday morning after he failed to respond in his garage.

A police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia that Green was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics a short time later.

“He was pronounced dead by emergency services a short time later,” she said. “There are no suspicious circumstances. A report is being prepared for the coroner.’

Paul Green coached the Cowboys for 167 games, including the 2015 premiership

Paul Green coached the Cowboys for 167 games, including the 2015 premiership

Paul Green coached the Cowboys for 167 games, including the 2015 premiership

Green leaves behind his wife Amanda and children Jed and Emerson.

He retired as coach of the Cowboys in 2020, but was still highly regarded in the league and would be assistant to Wayne Bennett with the Dolphins next year.

He was in Sydney this past weekend for a reunion of the Cronulla Sharks, the team for which he starred as halfback from 1994 to 1998, leading them to the 1997 Super League grand final.

One of his teammates, and a very close friend, Mat Rogers, started with a heartbreaking Instagram post that would bring even the most difficult men to tears.

“Love ya Shooter,” he wrote, accompanied by a photo of him golfing with Green.

Green joined dozens of iconic Sharks stars as they toured PointsBet Stadium for their match against arch-rivals St George Illawarra for Old Boys Day last Saturday night – appearing in good spirits during a short interview.

“It’s great to be back,” he told Sharks ground announcer Dane Wheeler.

“It’s a great night, great crowd and the weather is good for Shark Park so let’s hope the footy is great.

“I’ve had a lot of good memories and it’s great to catch up with all the old guys today, there’s been a lot of laughs and it’s been really well done by the club.”

Green played for the Cowboys, Roosters and Eels in a first-class career that lasted 10 years and ended in 2004, netting 162 games with 37 tries to his name.

Paul Green hugs half of Queensland's Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons won State of Origin game three last year

Paul Green hugs half of Queensland's Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons won State of Origin game three last year

Paul Green hugs half of Queensland’s Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons won State of Origin game three last year

Green’s death will hit the NRL hard.

In addition to those who still play in North Queensland, he has coached several players who started their careers in Townsville or played for the Maroons last year.

On Thursday night alone, Cameron Munster, Xavier Coates and Viliame Kikau were on the field just hours after learning of their former coach’s death.

NRL clubs also paid tribute to the man widely respected and loved throughout the league, with North Queensland releasing a statement calling Green “one of the greatest contributors in Cowboys history”.

For help in a crisis, call 000. If you or someone you know needs support, call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

Paul Green’s Career in Rugby League

PLAYER

  • 162 first class games played
  • Moved from Brisbane to Cronulla in 1994, played 95 games for the Sharks
  • Joined the Cowboys in 1999, made 35 appearances
  • Signed to the Roosters where he played 20 games from 2001-2002
  • Joined Parramatta in 2003 and played seven games
  • Ended his career with the Broncos with five games
  • Represented Queensland in seven Origin games
  • Represented Australia and Queensland in the Super League in the late 1990s

COACH

  • Head coach of the North Queensland Cowboys for 167 games (2014-2020), winning a premiership in 2015
  • Queensland Head Coach in 2021 State of Origin Series

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