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NRL great Johnathan Thurston has furiously revealed the time he left his coach Paul Green after he rolled his ankle on a night out after a ‘few beers’.
The former Cowboys halfback champion, 39, recalled when Green – who was buried at a private funeral in Brisbane on Tuesday – organized a pre-season trip to the Gold Coast.
“It was for the guys who went to the World Cup to let us know about the team structures,” Thurston said.
“So we went out for dinner the first night and had a drink and on the way back we were in the cab… go jump out and rolled my ankle.
“The next morning it was like a balloon and we were there for five days…I couldn’t put the boots on to do all the things…so that was the first time I saw him (Green) with a little bit of steam from his ears.
“But he likes to bring people together and he’s done a great job in Townsville.”
NRL great Johnathan Thurston has revealed the time he left Paul Green furious after rolling his ankle on a night out after a ‘couple of beers’
Green and Thurston teamed up to lead the North Queensland Cowboys to NRL premiership in 2015
Thurston was the hero in the 2015 decider, scoring a gold point field goal to seal a 17-16 win over arch-rivals the Broncos
Thurston and Green were very close.
Both will go down in folklore as the captain and coach who delivered their first NRL title in North Queensland in 2015.
And in typical Thurston style, it was dramatic, with a golden point goal sealing an epic 17-16 victory over arch-rivals the Broncos.
The man affectionately known as “JT” took Green’s sudden death harder than most.
He was unable to fulfill his Channel Nine commentary duties in the days that followed.
Before Tuesday’s ceremony began at the Wynnum Manly Leagues club, rugby league Immortal Wally Lewis revealed that Thurston “hasn’t stopped crying since the [Green’s death] happened.’
Mourners who arrived early for the service included champion ex-Brisbane Broncos players Shane Webcke and Andrew Gee, along with former North Cowboys boss and current Newcastle Knights football manager Peter Parr.
The Cowboys sent a delegation of representatives to pay their respects, including coach Todd Payten and star players Jason Taumalolo, Kyle Feldt and Jake Granville, who won the 2015 NRL final under Green’s astute coaching.
Broncos legend Allan Langer also said goodbye to his close friend, alongside current Brisbane football boss Ben Ikin and Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
Rugby league Immortal Wally Lewis (pictured) said Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston ‘hasn’t stopped crying’ since Green’s death more than two weeks ago
Mourners were greeted by a portrait of Green flanked by Queensland and Cowboys jerseys at his funeral on Tuesday. He played for and coached both sides during his great career
About 700 guests attended, including Anthony Minichiello, Brent Tate, Lote Tuqiri, Mal Meninga, Brad Thorn, Wendell Sailor, Kevin Walters and Brad Fittler.
Green’s brother Rick told the mourners, “He opened his arms to the world for all to see, no matter what life you came from.
He had the courage and the enlightenment to pay the price of being a real human being.
“He knew doubt and darkness were the price of knowing, but boy, he valued knowing. He left no stone unturned to find out.
“They all speak of a light that shone so brightly. That greatness is seen in so many ways.”
Green’s casket was taken out of service by porters, including lifelong friends Mark Bietz, Craig Greenhill and brother Rick, accompanied by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s song Shallow.
Friends, relatives and members of the rugby league community then created a guard of honor as Green Kougari left Oval for the last time.
During his storied playing career, the little halfback played 162 NRL games, mainly for Cronulla, as well as 10 games for Queensland and three Tests for Australia.
He also received the Rothmans Medal – now known as the Dally M Award – in 1995 for being the best player in the league, despite it being only his second season at the highest level.
Broncos legend and Green’s close friend Allan Langer at the service in Wynnum, east Brisbane
North Queensland stars (left to right) Jake Granville, Jason Taumalolo and Kyle Feldt arrive for the funeral. They all won the grand final of 2015 under the guidance of Green
Ikin stated that Green was one of the most important people he would look to if he wanted to know what was going on in the sport.
“I think Paul will be remembered as a man who thought deeply, who cared deeply about him and you felt that every time you were in his company,” he said.
“Some guys in professional sports are always on their way to the next thing, even when you’re talking to them.
“I’ve always felt that when Paul was talking to you, when you were in his company, he wanted to hear what you were thinking, he wanted to hear what you said and he cared about the outcome of the conversation.
“I think it was that part of his character, of his personality that allowed him to inspire a group of young men several times as a coach.
Ben Ikin (left) revealed that he will miss the in-depth conversations he and Green had about footy and life in general. He was joined at the service by Brad Fittler (right)
“I’ll miss our chats, that’s a given. We used to go deep, put on the diving gear, we used to say. Go deep about everything in the competition and life.
“He was always someone I could bounce things off, test things against, and get an intelligent answer. I know I’m going to miss those moments very much.’
Webcke was full of praise for his large size.
“Greeny was definitely a unique guy and an incredibly talented person, there was nothing Greeny tried that he couldn’t really get,” he said.
He could fly helicopters, fixed wing planes, he went to Harvard, he played footy, won premierships and coached and won premierships.
“Behind all that was the guy that the general public would have seen and behind that was this great mate and just a really good hearted guy.”
Green is survived by his wife Amanda and their children, Emerson and Jed.
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