It has been revealed that NRL legend Paul Green had been privately struggling with mental health issues for almost 20 years before his tragic death.
Green was found dead at his home in Brisbane on August 11, aged 49, after taking his own life.
He left behind his wife Amanda and young children Emerson and Jed, with the news rocking the rugby league community to its very core, as players and coaches implored others to speak up about mental health.
Green’s former Sharks and Queensland teammate, Craig Greenhill, said his great mate had first revealed details of his battles with mental health ’18 years ago’ – which was around the time Green retired from playing.
It’s been revealed that Paul Green had privately battled with mental health for almost 20 years before tragically taking his own life
Green leaves behind wife Amanda (pictured), and their two young children Jed and Emerson
He believes, however, that Green wasn’t getting the help he needed.
‘I don’t think he was being treated properly. It scares me to think what was going through his head,’ Greenhill told the Courier Mail.
Greenhill said their tight-knit friendship group were aware of some of his mental health issues, but ‘it didn’t seem to affect him all the time.’
Just prior to his death, Green went back to Shark Park for an Old Boys Day with Greenhill and other former teammates, and it was here signs emerged of just how much he was struggling.
Craig Greenhill (second from left) said his close mate Paul Green (third from left) had shown signs of struggling at a recent catch-up
But once again, Green found a way to push it down.
‘One morning I noticed he was struggling to get out of bed. I had to help to get him up and moving for the day,’ Greenhill said.
‘Then we played golf, went to the footy and he seemed really happy to be around all the boys. It’s always been a really tight knit group and ‘Greeny’ enjoyed it.’
Paul Green’s last public appearance came just days before his shock death – speaking on his ‘good memories’ while attending an Sharks game with former teammates
Greenhill and Green first played together at under 8s level in Queensland, and have been inseparable ever since, throughout long rugby league careers and in retirement.
He said only Green’s very closest friends and family members knew about his mental health struggles, which he believes were exacerbated by the brutal nature of the rugby league business.
Green was sacked by the Cowboys in 2020, despite famously leading the club to their maiden premiership in 2015 and putting on a coaching masterclass to guide an injury-ravaged side to the 2017 grand final.
He was also brutally axed by the Maroons after just one series – 2021 – despite Queensland managing to win the final match.
Paul Green celebrates with his Cowboys players after winning the 2015 NRL grand final
Paul Green hugs Queensland half Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons won game three of the 2021 State of Origin series. Green was later sacked
It followed a storied playing career, with the diminutive halfback playing 162 NRL matches, primarily for Cronulla, as well as 10 matches for Queensland and three Tests for Australia.
He also received the Rothmans Medal (now known as the Dally M) in 1995 for being the best player in the league, despite it being only his second season at the top level.
Green’s parents, Patricia (82) and Ned (94), have also broken their silence over their son’s death, saying: ‘their lives will never be the same’.
‘I am just stunned, devastated, broken hearted. I hope the feeling goes one day. We have cried ourselves out. There are no tears left. We are a tough old generation, I guess, and somehow we have to move on,’ a shattered Patricia told News Corp.
Happier times: Paul Green pictured with his father Ned (centre), and brother Rick (right); with the trio looking very dapper at Christmas celebrations
It’s enough to bring even the toughest of people to tears.
Patricia and the family are still in a state of disbelief that Green would take his own life, admitting ‘we will never have answers’.
The shattered matriarch said she never believed he could ever take his own life, and had seemed fine the day before his death.
‘Paul was a man of faith. He wasn’t loud about it, but I knew he had faith and I couldn’t believe he would do it (take his life) … it is against his beliefs. It is so hard to accept,’ Patricia said.
‘We had only seen Paul at his place the night before (at his son Jed’s ninth birthday party) … there was nothing untoward. Paul was the same Paul he has always been.’
Paul Green took his own life earlier this month, bringing the NRL world to its knees
Green’s family also recently announced they would be donating his brain to the Australian Sports Brain Bank to see if he was suffering from the debilitating concussion trauma injury known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE, which currently can only be diagnosed after death, can manifest in symptoms such as depression, suicidal ideations, memory loss and impaired judgement.
AFL legend Danny Frawley was found to have been suffering from stage-two CTE before he took his own life in 2019.
The public funeral and memorial service is due to take place on August 30 at the Wynnum Manly Leagues Club.
No doubt there won’t be a dry eye in the house.
For help in a crisis call 000. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact Lifeline 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.