Paul Green flew the coop in the same week the Roosters went on to claim the 2013 title, and now they fear their former assistant coach holds the red, white and blueprints to end their season.
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Green – now enjoying a stellar rookie year in charge of the Cowboys – was a key member of Trent Robinson's coaching staff last year, guiding the Chooks under-20s to the second week of the finals while also taking a hands-on role with the first grade team's playmakers.
The Cowboys find themselves better placed than arguably ever before to claim a maiden NRL premiership after 19 years of trying, with plenty of plaudits reserved for Green and the overhaul of the club's training and structures he has instigated.
The 42-year-old signed on with North Queensland on a two-year deal five days before the Roosters' grand final triumph over Manly last year, and faces off against his former club having instilled a similar defensive resolve in the Cowboys as was seen in the Tri-Colours successful 2013 campaign.
Senior Roosters forward Frank-Paul Nu'uausala says Green's inside knowledge of the Roosters will be an advantage for the North Queensland mentor, but is confident the Chooks can overcome the in-form Cowboys in Friday night's sudden death semi final.
"He knows how we play and how we train, and he'll be telling the boys the in and outs of our system," Nu'uausala says.
"So he'll be telling the boys how we play and our game plan hasn't changed since last year so he knows everything we do so that's probably the edge that he has over us.
"We're just confident in what we do. We know that even if he knows our game plan, if we execute it and play how we can play, nothing will stop us.
"I reckon they play similar football to us. Their attack's similar to us, It's just who executes it better and who holds the ball."
Halfback Mitchell Pearce agrees.
"I'm sure he learnt a lot from Robbo," Pearce says. "They've taken a similar sort of style to be honest, they've added a bit of variation, but they play a similar sort of style and they're quite similar sides really. Big forward packs, and they've got half the [Roosters] team up there."
The faces of former Chooks Green, Tautau Moga, Kane Linnett, Antonio Winterstein and James Tamou aren't the only familiar aspects that Pearce sees in the Cowboys current outfit.
The famed Bondi Wall, which saw the Chooks concede a miserly 13.2 points a game last year, looks to have been replicated north of the border by Green. The Cowboys have conceded an average of 17 points a game this year, behind only the Roosters and Rabbitohs.
Green has North Queensland conceding four points less per game than they did in 2013, while they also rank second to only the Rabbitohs in terms of missed tackles (621), offloads conceded (200) and tackle efficiency (91.8 per cent). Pearce says he can see a touch of the Roosters' defensive playbook at work in the way the Cowboys go about the business without the ball.
"I don't know if he's stolen it," Pearce says. "But you'd be silly not to try and take systems out of the best defensive team in the comp from the year before, and that's what we were.
"You'd be stupid not go up there and take some lessons you've learnt. He's done a great job with them and he's a very good coach."
Green was renowned as a fierce competitor during his playing days that saw him rack up seven Origin appearances for Queensland and 162 games across a decade in the top grade.
He spent two seasons each at both the Cowboys (1999-2000) and the Roosters (2001-02), and Chooks back-rower Boyd Cordner sees that same combative nature in the Cowboys approach this season.
"Greeny is a great bloke and obviously he's very disciplined and you can just see it in the way their playing their footy," Cordner says.
"It's no surprise Greeny's got them playing like that. He's a very good coach, he's very smart and when he was playing he was a very tough player. He's definitely instilled that into the Cowboys and they've probably been the in-form team in the comp."