Rugby league great Paul Green honoured in emotional pre-match tribute

Apr 28, 2023
Paul Green passed away suddenly at the age of 49 on Thursday, August 11, 2022. Source: Getty Images.

The rugby league community has come together in a moving pre-match tribute to honour the legacy of one of the game’s greats, Paul Green.

Crowds who had gathered to see the North Queensland Cowboys face off against the Cronulla Sharks on Thursday, April 27 took a moment to recognise Green’s contribution to the game.

Green’s two children, Jed and Emerson, led the teams out onto the field, as players and fans united in a minute-long round of applause to honor the rugby league legend. Amanda, his widow, was visibly moved by the heartfelt display of affection.

Green passed away suddenly at the age of 49 on Thursday, August 11, 2022, in his Brisbane home. Following his death it was revealed that Green suffered from a degenerative brain condition that has been increasingly diagnosed in retired players.

“It was such a shock, it was so left-field,” Amanda told 9News.

“But I suppose now we understand Paul had a terminal brain disease, we just didn’t know it at the time.

“Now we know it’s such a scary disease that we need to keep researching and understanding.”

Despite her late husband’s condition, Amanda holds no ill will towards the game, acknowledging the immense contributions it made to Green’s life and their family.

“No, definitely not anger,” she said.

“The game gave not only Paul, but the kids and I so many wonderful memories that we will cherish forever.

“We talk about him a lot, we laugh and remember the good times.

“He will be forever in our lives and in our memories.”

Players from both sides were vying for the inaugural Paul Green Medal which was awarded to Sharks star Nicho Hynes who delivered a poignant tribute of his own for Green.

“It is an absolute honour to be able to receive this award for the first time,” Hynes said after receiving the award.

“Paul Green was an integral part of this club, player No.290. To the family and all the friends who have played a part in Paul’s life, thank you so much for coming down.

“It is a crazy feeling right now, because I know how much he means to everyone here. Thanks to our boys for putting in such a good performance.

“Everyone, make sure we all check in on each other because you never know what is going on.”

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.

In 2004, Green made the move back to Queensland to sign with the Brisbane Broncos where he made five appearances with the club before retiring.

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.

If you or anyone you know needs help: Lifeline — 13 11 14; MensLine Australia — 1300 789 978; BeyondBlue — 1300 224 636; Suicide Call Back Service — 1300 659 467; Headspace — 1800 650 890; Kids Helpline — 1800 551 800.

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