A shocked Mat Rogers says his former rugby league teammate, Paul Green, will be remembered as an “incredible competitor” who never took a backward step.
- Mat Rogers spent time with Paul Green last weekend
- The pair played together for Cronulla and Queensland
- He described Green as a “really good bloke”
The rugby league world is in mourning following the sudden death of 49-year-old Green, who represented Queensland in State of Origin and was a premiership-winning coach.
Rogers spent the past weekend in Sydney with Green at a Cronulla players reunion, with the pair having been teammates at the Sharks for three seasons from 1995.
They were roommates in the Queensland Super League representative team in 1997, before spending two years together in the Maroons State of Origin side.
Green later enjoyed a successful coaching career, guiding North Queensland to its first NRL premiership in 2015.
Rogers said he and Green played golf and then sat next to each other to watch the Sharks beat St George Illawarra on Saturday night.
“It was great — we played golf on Friday together and spent time at the reunion together,” Rogers said.
“He was telling me about the new boat he’d just bought for the family and I was looking forward to going for a ride.
“I can’t believe he’s gone … it makes me appreciate that time I got to spend with him.”
Rogers said half-back Green — who stood at just 167 centimetres tall — played well above his diminutive size.
“We played together for years and he was just an incredible competitor,” Rogers said.
“There was nothing of him and he just never took a backward step.”
Rogers said Green had been a sounding board for him recently as he set up his new player management business, while the father-of-two was also an ear for others who needed advice.
“He’s just been helpful with a lot of our young players and, out of the football world, I know other guys have had their troubles and he’s been there for them,” Rogers said.
“He’s just a loved guy, a really good bloke.”
Rogers said Green harboured ambitions to return to coaching in the NRL, having been in charge of the Cowboys until midway through the 2020 season.
He was linked to an assistant position at NRL newcomers the Dolphins, as well as other head coaching roles.
“He had a lot of ambition to continue on, in the NRL path,” Rogers said.
“He’s proven to be a great coach and he still had plenty of years left in him at that level but, unfortunately, we’re never going to see it, which is really sad.”
Another former Sharks teammate, Martin Lang, paid tribute to Green on Twitter.
“This is so sad. Paul was a close mate. We moved to Sydney together in 1993 … the beginning of an outstanding NRL playing/coaching career,” Lang wrote.
“My sincere condolences to Paul’s wife, children and his dear mum and dad.
“Rest In Peace mate.”
Green moved to the Sharks in 1994 after a stint with Easts Tigers (now Brisbane Tigers) in the then-Brisbane Rugby League.
He won the now-defunct Rothmans Medal — the NSWRL/ARL best and fairest award — in 1995 and, two years later, was a member of the Sharks’ side that reached the Super League grand final.
Green represented Australia during the only season of Super League in 1997.
After leaving the Sharks following the inaugural NRL season in 1998, Green played with North Queensland, the Sydney Roosters, Parramatta and Brisbane Broncos before retiring in 2004.
Green then went into coaching, winning back-to-back Queensland Cup titles with Wynnum Manly in 2011 and 2012.
He joined Trent Robinson’s coaching staff at the Roosters in their 2013 premiership season, before replacing Neil Henry as Cowboys head coach the following year.
Green coached Queensland in the 2021 State of Origin series, losing 2-1 to NSW.