Dark clouds were hanging over the Wynnum Manly Leagues club in Brisbane as mourners arrived for the funeral and memorial service for NRL great Paul Green on Tuesday morning.
The premiership-winning coach was found unresponsive in his Wynnum home in Brisbane’s east on August 11, aged just 49. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
Mourners arriving early for the service included champion ex-Brisbane Broncos players Shane Webcke and Andrew Gee, along with for former North Queensland Cowboys boss and current Newcastle Knights football manager Peter Parr.
The Cowboys sent a delegation including star players Jason Taumalolo, Kyle Feldt and Jake Granville, who won the 2015 NRL grand final under Green’s coaching.
North Queensland stars (left to right) Jake Granville, Jason Taumalolo and Kyle Feldt arrive for the funeral. They all won the 2015 grand final under Green’s coaching
Brisbane Broncos legend and Green’s good friend Allan Langer arrives at the service at the home ground of the late coach’s junior team, Wynnum, in Brisbane’s east
Mourners were greeted by a portrait of Green flanked by Queensland and Cowboys jerseys. He played for and coached both sides during his stellar career
Green played for Wynnum Manly from the juniors until he made the first grade side and won two premierships as coach of the Seagulls, so it’s fitting that the service is being held at the club’s home ground, Kougari Oval.
The club’s coach Todd Payten was also among the first to arrive, along with Broncos legend Allan Langer, current Brisbane football boss Ben Ikin and Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
Around 700 guests are expected, and other NRL stars and legends in attendance include Anthony Minichiello, Brent Tate, Wally Lewis, .
Signed Queensland and Cowboys jerseys were placed either side of a black and white portrait of Green for the ceremony. He played for and coached both sides during his stellar career.
Broncos greats Shane Webcke (left, arms crossed) and Andrew Gee (centre) join the proceedings and wait for other mourners to arrive
Green leaves behind his wife Amanda (pictured together at the 2015 Dally M Awards) and their children Jed and Emerson
Jason Taumalolo’s teammates Jake Granville and Kyle Feldt help him with his suit before the ceremony begins
Rugby league Immortal Wally Lewis (pictured arriving) said Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston – who kicked the winning field goal in the 2015 grand final – ‘hasn’t stopped crying’ since Green’s death more than two weeks ago
Thurston – who was so shattered by the news of Green’s death that he couldn’t commentate on the footy for Channel Nine – is seen with ex-Broncos star Corey Parker (back to camera)
During his storied playing career the diminutive halfback played 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.
A public memorial will be held after the private service on the field of the team’s home ground, Kougari Oval.
Green is survived by his wife Amanda and children Jed and Emerson.
Before the ceremony began, rugby league Immortal Wally Lewis revealed that Johnathan Thurston – the North Queensland great who kicked the winning field goal in the 2015 grand final – ‘hasn’t stopped crying since it [Green’s death] happened’.
Ben Ikin revealed that Paul Green was one of the main people he would seek out when he wanted to know what was going on in the sport.
‘I think Paul will be remembered as a guy who thought deeply, who cared deeply and you felt that every time you were in his company,’ he said.
‘Some guys in professional sport are always sort of on their way to the next thing even when you’re in a conversation with them.
Mat Rogers arrives with his wife Chloe Maxwell. He played with Green during their days with the Cronulla Sharks
Ben Ikin, the head of football for Brisbane, was among a host of past and present footy stars who arrived to pay their respects – and he revealed that he’ll miss the in-depth conversations he and Green shared about footy and life in general
‘I always felt that when Paul was engaged in conversation with you, when you were in his company, that he wanted to hear what you thought, he wanted to hear what you said and he cared about the outcome of the conversation.
‘I reckon it was that part of his character, of his personality that enabled him to inspire a group of young men multiple times over as a coach.
‘I’ll miss our chats, that’s a given.
‘We used to go deep, put the scuba gear on, we used to say. Go deep about anything in league and life.
‘He was always someone that I could bounce things off, that I could test things against and get an intelligent answer.
‘I know that I am going to miss those moments a lot.’