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Cowboys players gather after letting in a try.

North Queensland Cowboys assistant coach Todd Payten admits to being surprised by club chairman Laurence Lancini offering head coach Paul Green an ultimatum in their contract negotiations.

The Cowboys have offered Green a three-year extension, and Lancini told News Corp that unless he accepted the offer soon, the club would explore negotiating with other potential suitors.

Lancini made the point that Green, who led the club to a maiden premiership in 2015 and to last year's grand final, was the first choice option for the Cowboys moving forward and that no negotiations had started with other coaches.

"I was a bit surprised, but I guess he has to look after the club's interests," Payten said when asked about Lancini's comments.

"It's the game we are are never safe in the job."

The Cowboys have a host of players off-contract and Payten admitted the uncertainty surrounding Green's future would likely have an impact on those still deciding their futures.

"I think 'Greeny' has had a big influence on all the players at the club, so them wanting to see what he's doing is probably natural," Payten said. 

Despite the media firestorm over the ultimatum being delivered and the uncertainty over Green's future, Payten was confident the players wouldn't be distracted leading into their must-win clash with the Warriors on Saturday.

"It's been going for a while now, both parties have stated what they want to state, so I think it's going to be sorted sooner or later," he said.


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