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Paul Green’s best mate reveals their final conversation before his tragic death

The best mate of Paul Green has revealed their devastating final conversation, with the legendary coaching texting him just days earlier saying: ‘we need to catch up’.

The death of the legendary NRL figure, who coached the North Queensland Cowboys to its maiden premiership in 2016, has thrown the footy world into shock and mourning.

A post-mortem will be carried out to determine his cause of death. Those close to the ex-Cronulla star are devastated and say there was no indication he was ill.

Former Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini said he is a ‘broken man’ after hearing that his ‘lifelong friend’ had died, revealing the 49-year-old had been messaging him to meet up just three days earlier.

‘This is so, so sad. I am a broken man. I cannot believe this has happened,’ Lancini told News Corp.

‘I had spoken to Paul just three days ago and he said we need to catch up for a beer.’

Laurence Lancini (pictured with Paul Green), the legendary coach’s best mate, has revealed their devastating final conversation, with the legendary coaching texting him just days earlier saying: ‘we need to catch up’

Green leaves behind his wife Amanda (pictured together at the 2017 Dally M Awards) and his children Jed and Emerson

Green leaves behind his wife Amanda (pictured together at the 2017 Dally M Awards) and his children Jed and Emerson

Lancini, who worked in various leadership roles at the Cowboys over a distinguished 20-year career, said he had known ‘Greeny’ his entire life but admitted he had become ‘lost’ since leaving coaching.

‘Greeny mentioned he was keen to coach again and had some options, and I asked Greeny if he really wanted to go back into it again,’ Lancini revealed.

‘Greeny has come from a position where he coached a club to a premiership and a second grand final. He has coached State of Origin. He has coached at the highest levels, and I think Greeny was a bit lost and confused about where his life needed to be without coaching.

‘The last few years have been a bit tough on him because he hasn’t been coaching in the NRL.’

The former North Queensland boss said he was ‘totally devastated `by his death and divulged it came just a day after son Jed’s 9th birthday.

‘I didn’t see his death coming,’ he said. ‘He will always be a champion in our hearts. He will always be so important for our Cowboys club.

‘I just feel totally devastated. I believe it was his son Jed’s birthday yesterday.’

Lancini (pictured with Green) said he had known 'Greeny' his entire life but admitted he had become 'lost' since leaving coaching

Lancini (pictured with Green) said he had known ‘Greeny’ his entire life but admitted he had become ‘lost’ since leaving coaching

Green’s last public appearance came just days before his shock death – speaking of his ‘good memories’ while attending an NRL game with former teammates.

The 49-year-old joined dozens of iconic Sharks stars doing a lap of honour around PointsBet Stadium before their match against arch-rivals St George Illawarra for Old Boys Day Saturday night – appearing in good spirits during a short interview.

‘It’s great to be back,’ Green told Sharks ground announcer Dane Wheeler.

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

‘I’ve had plenty of good memories, and it’s great to catch up with all the old boys today. It’s been a ton of laughs and really well done by the club.’

Paul Green's last public appearance came just days before his shock death - speaking on his 'good memories' while attending an NRL game with former teammates on Saturday

Paul Green’s last public appearance came just days before his shock death – speaking on his ‘good memories’ while attending an NRL game with former teammates on Saturday

Green, who played for Cronulla from 1994 to 1998 and won the 2015 premiership as coach of the North Queensland Cowboys, was found in the garage of his Brisbane home on Thursday.

A Queensland Police spokeswoman said police were called to a Wynnum residence just after 10 am on Thursday after a 49-year-old man was located unresponsive.

‘He was declared deceased by emergency crews a short time later,’ she said. ‘There are no suspicious circumstances. A report will be prepared for the Coroner.’

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

Green quit as the Cowboys’ coach in 2020 but was still highly rated in the league and was due to be an assistant to Wayne Bennett with the Dolphins next year.

He starred at halfback for the Sharks from 1994 to 1998, guiding them to the 1997 Super League grand final.

Green went on to play from the Cowboys, Roosters and Eels in a first-grade career that spanned ten years and ended in 2004, racking up 162 games with 37 tries to his name.

The halfback won the Rothmans Medal in 1995 while playing for Cronulla (pictured) - the team he helped take to the Super League grand final in 1997

The halfback won the Rothmans Medal in 1995 while playing for Cronulla (pictured) – the team he helped take to the Super League grand final in 1997

The 49-year-old was tragically found dead in the garage of his Brisbane home on Thursday (pictured)

The 49-year-old was tragically found dead in the garage of his Brisbane home on Thursday (pictured)

The diminutive half played seven State of Origin games for Queensland from 1998 to 2001 and played two matches for the Australian Super League team in 1997.

His stellar coaching career began with the Cowboys in 2014, and the following year he guided the club to their only premiership, a thrilling 17-16 victory over the Brisbane Broncos in extra time.

Green coached Queensland’s State of Origin team for one series in 2021. When he resigned from that job last September, it appeared certain he would resume his days as an NRL coach.

He was linked to West Tigers at the end of last season and was expected to take on a role at the Dolphins next year.

Green’s death will hit the NRL hard.

Beyond those still at North Queensland, he has coached several players across the game who began their careers in Townsville or played for the Maroons last year.

Green was only in his second year as coach of the North Queensland Cowboys when he guided them to their only premiership in 2015

Green was only in his second year as coach of the North Queensland Cowboys when he guided them to their only premiership in 2015

Green embraces Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons won game three of last year's State of Origin series - his last game as coach

Green embraces Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans after the Maroons won game three of last year’s State of Origin series – his last game as coach

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

Green was in Sydney only last weekend for the Cronulla ex-players’ reunion, a club where he played 95 games before moving north to the Cowboys.

He was also a part of the Sydney Roosters’ 2002 premiership-winning squad, before finishing his playing days at Parramatta and Brisbane.

Paul Green’s career in rugby league

PLAYER 

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

COACH 

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

‘We are deeply saddened at the tragic passing of Queenslander and former Bronco, Paul Green,’ the Broncos tweeted.

‘A legend on and off the field gone far too soon.’

His passing is another shocking loss to the Australian sporting community following the deaths of Australian cricket legends Rod Marsh, Shane Warne and Andrew Symonds – a good friend of Green’s – earlier this year.

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

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