BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Paul Green, who represented Australia during a decade-long playing career and then guided North Queensland Cowboys to its first National Rugby League premiership title during a successful run as a coach, has died. He was 49.
In a Twitter post Thursday, the NRL said: “The rugby league community has lost a legendary player and coach today.”
“Our deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and the countless fans who loved him. Rest in peace.”
The cause of death has not been released.
Green’s family members released a statement saying they were devastated by his death.
“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, Our family is still trying to understand this tragedy and we request space and time as we come to terms with this loss.”
Green is survived by wife Amanda, daughter Emerson and son Jed. Both children are under 10.
The Brisbane Broncos, the last of five NRL clubs where Green played and where he was an assistant coach during the 2006 premiership-winning season, tweeted: “We are deeply saddened at the tragic passing of Queenslander and former Bronco, Paul Green. A legend on and off the field gone far too soon.”
Green played 162 games in the top-flight as a halfback, five-eighth or hooker, making his debut for the Cronulla Sharks in 1994 and also having stints at the Cowboys, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta and Brisbane before retiring in 2004.
He won the award for best and fairest player in Australia's top-flight competition in 1995. He played 10 games for Queensland, including seven in the annual State of Origin series, and represented Australia in 1997.
Green's coaching highlight was the 2015 premiership with the Cowboys, who edged the Broncos in golden-point extra time to claim the club's first title. He guided the Cowboys again to the NRL final two years later.
North Queensland Cowboys chairman Lewis Ramsay said Green had a “pivotal impact on the club" as its first Origin representative “but his lasting legacy emanated from his seven-season tenure as head coach.”
“Paul’s arrival as head coach transformed our club from finals contenders to an immediate premiership force," Ramsay said. "We will forever remember Paul as one of the greatest contributors in Cowboys history.”
Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V’landys said Green had a reputation as a halfback “who was as tough as he was skillful.”
“As a coach he led the North Queensland Cowboys to one of the most famous grand final victories of all time," V'landys said in a statement, adding that Green was a “passionate, smart and witty individual.”
Green left the Cowboys in 2020 and, after leading Queensland in the 2021 State of Origin series, wasn't working with any NRL clubs this season.
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