Cowboys face battle to keep in- demand coach
PAUL Green could become the NRL’s next million- dollar mentor after the Cowboys admitted they are facing a bidding war to retain the Dally M coach- of- the- year contender.
Green will join Melbourne Storm boss Craig Bellamy as the most in- demand clipboard holders in the game next year following his incredible effort to guide North Queensland to within 80 minutes of the grand final.
The Cowboys will face the Sydney Roosters in a preliminary final at Allianz Stadium on Saturday after knocking Parramatta out of the title race on the weekend. Green, 45, was at the helm when North Queensland claimed their first NRL premiership in 2015 and made it to the final four of last year’s competition.
But his efforts this season could arguably be better given Test duo Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston have missed most of the season because of injury.
Green, who is off- contract at the end of next season, is sure to attract interest from cashed- up rivals given the shortage of proven coaches on the market.
“Of course we would love Paul to go on,” Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini said.
“At the moment, he has another year to go, so we don’t feel the need to rush anything.
“Paul is happy here and we’re happy with him.
“But look, why wouldn’t he be in demand? He has done a wonderful job at the Cowboys and it wouldn’t surprise me if there are other clubs out there who are interested in Greeny because he’s a very good coach.
“We’d love to keep him but it won’t be easy.
“Financially, we probably couldn’t compete with some other clubs so if there was a big offer from Sydney, it would be difficult for us to match it.
“But we want to keep Paul here beyond his current deal and hopefully we can do that.”
Green is now in the elite group of NRL coaches, joining Brisbane’s Wayne Bennett, Sydney’s Trent Robinson and Bellamy as consistent performers who could demand $ 1 million- a- season salaries.
He turned the Cowboys from NRL finals regulars into premiership contenders after assuming the duties from Neil Henry in 2014.
Halfback Michael Morgan has developed into a Test and Origin player under Green and said the Cowboys had evolved in the past four years.
“He’s been massive,” Morgan said. “What he is really good at is giving his players a role and making them accountable for it.
“Even now I continue to learn from him about the game and my position.
“I can’t speak highly enough of him. He will tell you directly what he wants from you and hold you accountable to do it.
“As well as being a good coach, he is a good teacher as well and I’ve learnt a lot off him. For what he’s done for the club it’d only be right that he’d stick around.”
Scott’s season- ending knee injury in Round 2 was a major blow to North Queensland’s title credentials and they were expected to just be making up the numbers when Thurston’s campaign ended during the Origin series.
A slice of luck saw them finish eighth on the ladder and they have since ended the seasons of defending premiers Cronulla and Parramatta, who finished the season fourth.
The Cowboys will again start as outsiders against the Roosters but it is a tag they have not struggled to overcome under Green’s watch.
“Any coach that lost their two best players would probably lose their chops by now,” Cowboys lock Jason Taumalolo said.
“He’s definitely been composed and always had that belief in the players that we could get the job done. That shows how much respect the boys have for Greeny.”