To pay homage to late rugby league legend, Paul Green, an award has been named in his honour to recognise his contribution to the game.
Green passed away suddenly at the age of 49 on Thursday, August 11 2022, in his Brisbane home after taking his own life.
It was later revealed that Green suffered from an advanced brain disease at the time of his death, bringing “some peace” to his devastated family.
Vale Paul Green.
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. pic.twitter.com/dUeUc4sPEL
— NRL (@NRL) August 11, 2022
The memory of Green will now be commemorated and his impact on the sport acknowledged through the Paul Green Medal, which will be contested by his former teams, the Cronulla Sharks and the North Queensland Cowboys.
The award will go to the man of the match, as chosen by the winning coach.
Green’s wife Amanda thanked the clubs for honouring her late husband while speaking to the importance of the award in keeping her husband’s legacy alive.
“We can only say thank you to the Sharks and Cowboys for coming together to provide a medal that will ensure Paul’s legacy lives on,” she told The Daily Telegraph.
“Paul had so many wonderful connections throughout the game, but it was at the Sharks and Cowboys where he forged deep relationships with both his teammates, club and supporters.
“This will be a wonderful thing for our kids going forward for them to appreciate just how high their dad was held at these clubs.”
Green’s family struggled to understand and come to terms with their tragic and sudden loss but a call from the Australian Sports Brain Bank’s neuropathologist Professor Michael Buckland provided the family with some closure.
After Green’s family made the generous decision to donate his brain to science, in an effort to better understand the impact of concussion on sportspeople, Buckland was able to determine that Green suffered from one of the more “severe forms of pure CTE” he has come across.
Amanda said that she hopes the new award will “raise further discussions around CTE”.
“We can’t lose another life like this because it’s just devastating,” she said.
“I still have days where I can’t believe we’re where we’re at.
“A day doesn’t go by where I just wish I knew then what I now know about CTE.”
Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta described the introduction of the new award as “the perfect opportunity to make sure we forever honour Paul”.
“We wouldn’t do this without Amanda’s blessing. Graciously, she accepted the gesture knowing what impact the Paul Green Medal will have for Emerson and Jed, and also our ability to raise awareness for head injuries in sport,” Mezzatesta said.
“Our coach Craig Fitzgibbon and his assistant Josh Hannay are deeply connected to the Green family through previously working with Paul, which gives us great confidence that the players will appreciate how special winning the Paul Green Medal will be.”
— Cronulla Sharks (@cronullasharks) February 24, 2023
North Queensland Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel said the introduction of the Paul Green Medal will provide a “reference point to just how much Paul meant to so many people in North Queensland and at Cronulla”.
“When Dino and I spoke, we also discussed what we could do to raise awareness around the brain bank and to ensure they’re getting the donations and funding they need,” Reibel said.
During his playing career, Green took the field an incredible 162 times with a number of clubs which included the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, North Queensland Cowboys, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta Eels, and the Brisbane Broncos. He also represented Queensland in seven State of Origin games and played two matches for the Australian Super League team in 1997.
Green made his debut with the Cronulla Sharks in 1994, impressing many with his maturity and impressive skills as a halfback. Following his debut season, Green won the ARL’s prestigious Rothmans Medal award as best and fairest player.
In 1999 Green made a move to the North Queensland Cowboys as the team’s starting halfback for most of the year. He also became the club’s first State of Origin representative, when he was selected as Queensland’s halfback for Game 2 in the series.
Green returned to Sydney in 2001 to play for the Sydney Roosters where he played 19 games for the club while receiving another call up to Origin, playing in all three games in Queensland’s series win.
Following a knee injury in 2002 that ruled him out for the entire Roosters’ premiership-winning season, Green went on to join the Parramatta Eels in 2003 as a halfback for seven games before a cheekbone fracture ended his season.
Following Green’s impressive playing career he turned his attention toward coaching after his retirement, where he famously led the North Queensland Cowboys to their first Grand Final in a decade. The Cowboys went to win the final with a 17-16 win over the Brisbane Broncos.
The monumental win made Green the first coach in history to defeat the Brisbane Broncos in a Grand Final.
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