North Queensland has breathed a collective sigh of relief as their master-coach Paul Green has re-signed with the club until 2021.
His previous deal with the club was due to expire at the conclusion of this season, with Cowboys management showing they were eager for him to re-sign and put an end to the rumour he would succeed Wayne Bennett as the coach of the Brisbane Broncos.
A successful tenure.... so far
Paul Green is one of the most sought after coaches in the NRL, which is little surprise when you have a look at his sterling record to date. After being an assistant coach at the Brisbane Broncos, he coached the Wynnum Seagulls in the QLD Intrust Super Cup, winning two premierships. As his star rose, he moved to the Sydney Roosters in 2013 and was the coach of their Under 20s, and an assistant to Trent Robinson when the Roosters dominated the competition and won the Minor Premiership and the Premiership. He deserved an opportunity at the top and the Cowboys were happy to oblige.
Before he joined the club, the Cowboys were a team blessed with talent but lacking the killer instinct to turn that talent into a Premiership-winning side. In 2012 and 2013 they had been bundled out of the competition in Finals matches that involved some controversial calls that led to their senior players even suggesting a conspiracy against them from NRL headquarters. While the calls were poor, they weren't the reason for the losses; the players' inability to compartmentalise those negative thoughts and move on with the game was. Green knew this, so when he became their coach in 2014 he immediately made efforts to stamp out that kind of mentality.
In 2014 they were knocked out by the Roosters going down 31-30, with yet another contentious call from the officials. Most rugby league fans would admit that the correct call was probably made, but try telling that to fans from North Queensland. Green was quick to remind his team and the public that if they didn't trail 30-0 in that game, they wouldn't have been on the losing end of the scorecard. That was that. The players were accountable. It was little surprise they won the competition the following year, then made a Preliminary Final in 2016 and somehow made the Grand Final in 2017. Along with his talented roster, Green has been a major reason for the club's successes.
Odd timing of signature
It's rare that a coach would be re-signed by their club when they are on a 5 game losing streak despite having one of the most talented rosters in the competition, but here we are. Some would suggest that Green could see red flags and that his value would dip should the Cowboys finish outside the Top 8, but I think it's a show of faith from the club's management; faith that Green has earned.
Cowboys fans would be disappointed by the form of their side in 2018, but there is a remarkable amount of faith that 'Greeny' will turn the mentality of the players around and the results will follow. Unlike Ricky Stuart, who after 4 losses from his Canberra side used a press conference to aggressively berate his players, calling them soft and implying they weren't having a go. After the Cowboys were crushed by the struggling Bulldogs in front of their home fans, Green and Thurston tried a different tactic; they spoke about how hard the players were trying, about working hard at training, about staying composed, about trusting their systems. Their confidence in their ability to turn their season around is infectious; fans just hope it isn't mis-placed.
What now for Brisbane Broncos?
Paul Green had been sounded out by the Brisbane Broncos where he started his coaching career as a halves specialist in 2005. They are acutely aware that Wayne Bennett is at the back-end of his career and is off-contract at the end of 2019. This may well be his last contract. With Kevin Walters recently quitting as the assistant coach to focus on his duties as the head coach of the Maroons, the door was left ajar for Green to swoop and lead one of the glamour clubs of the league. While contracts are often broken, this deal is a sign that, come the end of 2019 if Bennett retires, the Broncos will have to look elsewhere for a replacement. Do they give an untried assistant the reigns, like they have previously with Ivan Henjak and Anthony Griffin, or do they headhunt a coach with NRL experience? Interesting times ahead for the Broncos!
We're sure that Paul Green will sleep easier now he's signed on the dotted line and sorted out his immediate future. Hopefully, there will be a residual benefit for the Cowboys with their on-field performances, as players will feel more settled now that their coach is not in the headlines. His next job is to get his star-studded squad into the semi-finals and to push deep into September.
Do you think re-signing Paul Green is the right move for the Cowboys? Let us know in the comments below.