Coach Paul Green with Johnathan Thurston during a North Queensland Cowboys training session at Leichhardt Oval ahead of this weekend's NRL Grand Final. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Coach Paul Green with Johnathan Thurston during a North Queensland Cowboys training session at Leichhardt Oval ahead of this weekend's NRL Grand Final. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Thurston hopes ‘irreplaceable’ Green stays at Cowboys

COWBOYS champion Johnathan Thurston has described in-demand coach Paul Green as irreplaceable, conceding whether he re-signs with the club would be a big factor when off-contract teammates weigh up their own futures.

Reports on Thursday revealed a third party with a long-time association with Brisbane Broncos made a secret approach to the off-contract Green before last year's grand final about replacing Wayne Bennett when his contract ends at the end of 2019.

The Cowboys hierarchy remain extremely confident of retaining Green, with reports the club has tabled a three-year deal until the end of 2021.

Thurston has recently described Green as the club's most important signing to pull off, adamant he belongs in the top echelon of coaches in the game.

Before his testimonial game alongside good friend Cameron Smith against Melbourne on Friday night in Brisbane, Thurston intimated Green is the best club coach he's played under.

The Cowboys don’t believe Paul Green wants to leave.
The Cowboys don’t believe Paul Green wants to leave.

Halves partner Michael Morgan is understood to be close to signing a new long-term deal, but other key players including Ethan Lowe, Justin O'Neill, Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville are off contract.

The Cowboys have a strong record of retaining required players and Thurston said keeping Green in Townsville would help that cause.

"I would say if I was in that position I would certainly be holding off and waiting for Greeny to sign on the (dotted) line. He'd be a big part of my future moving forward," Thurston said.

"The Cowboys have given him his first coaching opportunity and certainly we'd love to see him stay.

"He's certainly got the credentials and the mind of being able to be among the likes of Bennett and 'Bellyache' (Storm coach Craig Bellamy). There's no better football brain since I've been at the club than Greeny, and the respect he has from the players is what you need in a head coach.

"He's been able to get the best out of the squad since he's arrived at the club, and no other coach in my time has been able to do that here."

Wayne Bennett and Paul Green. Photo: Adam Head
Wayne Bennett and Paul Green. Photo: Adam Head

Asked if Green would be irreplaceable, Thurston said: "Yeah, definitely. Muz (Graham Murray) was great for the club, taking them to the first finals and Neil (Henry) as well, but a coach like Greeny doesn't come around too often.

"He's delivered the first premiership and with the squad he's assembled, no doubt success is part of the future of his club."

Asked about his contract talks with the Cowboys on Thursday, Green said he was comfortable with the progress.

"I don't read any of that stuff, I'm just doing my best to do a deal here (with Cowboys), so hopefully that's how it will turn out," Green said.

"I'm in no rush, I'm comfortable with where it's at, the discussions are ongoing.

"It hasn't been a distraction, we've got a pretty good group from that point of view, so I don't see it as an issue at this stage."


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