Among those saddened by the demise of Cowboys coach Paul Green, is his premiership-winning captain and halfback Johnathan Thurston.
He’d like it to be remembered that behind every good player is an even better coach.
“He was enormous for my game,” Thurston told NRL.com
“He put some structures around my footy and around the team. That helped me express myself on the field and execute those structures and plans.
“Before he arrived at the club the reality was we couldn’t win away from home,” the four-time Dally M Player of the Year said.
“And if I was injured or away playing Origin, we couldn’t seem to win if I was on the sidelines.
Green opens up on his exit from the Cowboys
“But he turned all that around and took us to four straight semi-finals, including a premiership and a grand final.”
Evidence of that rejuvenation of the Cowboys culture and confidence came with the side making the 2017 grand final from eighth spot, and without either of their co-captains – Thurston and Matt Scott – due to shoulder and knee injuries.
Thurston said he wasn’t the only beneficiary of Green’s ability to draw something extra out of players, or pinpoint the skills to refine for a promising player to turn into a great player.
“He helped develop a lot of the players at the club, which are household names now, like Jason (Taumalolo), Morgo (Michael Morgan), Kyle Feldt, John Asiata, Coen Hess – that young crew that came through our 20s and have gone on to play representative football,” he said.
“It’s such a shame he won’t be able to continue to do that with some of the young talent we’ve got coming through now.”
A look back at the 2015 Grand Final
Thurston said he’d sent a text message to Green but would “wait for the dust to settle” before having a sit-down chat with him.
Thurston is adamant the Cowboys' 2020 woes in no way diminish Green’s input over almost seven years.
“It can’t be under-estimated what he’s done for the club. He took over in 2014 and his influence has been huge. It is a big loss for the club,” Thurston said.
“The board wanted to head in a different direction and they’re on the hunt for a new head coach.
“It has to be a good decision because there’s a lot of talent pushing through who need to be nurtured into first grade footballers, but also how to win first grade games as well.
“So we certainly need a head coach like him, that’s for sure.”
Naturally someone who not only is a three-time Golden Boot winner but who stands in bronze outside the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium, would come up in conversation as a likely candidate.
But Thurston can’t run away quick enough from that job opening.
“I have no intention of ever coaching, whether as an assistant or in the head coach role,” he said.
“Life’s too good for me. I see what they have to go through – no thanks.”