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Why time is now right as Maroons turn to Green

Fresh from leading the Cowboys to their maiden premiership in 2015, Paul Green was offered to the chance to succeed Mal Meninga as Queensland State of Origin coach.

In two years at the helm in Townsville, Green had taken the Cowboys to a preliminary final in ’14 and a premiership in ’15 and the Maroons hierarchy liked what they saw from the crafty playmaker turned shrewd mentor.

Big Mal, of course, had masterminded the greatest winning streak in Origin history between 2006-13 before the Blues finally hit back in 2014, so his successor was bound to feel a bit like the bloke going in to bat after Bradman.

Green weighed his options and chose to put all his energy into North Queensland’s title defence, while Kevin Walters, the man who captained the Maroons in Green’s debut Origin game in 1999, was handed the state reins.

"I'm humbled by the overtures and coaching the Maroons is something I am hugely passionate about,” Green said at the time.

Fittler reacts to Green’s expected Maroons appointment

"I've decided to concentrate on coaching the Cowboys in season 2016. I want to thank everyone who has supported me through this process however the timing around coaching State of Origin next year just wasn't quite right, and from a personal point of view, the decision that I've made will be the best thing for all parties next year."

History records Green’s Cowboys got within one game of the grand final in 2016 while Kevvie’s first foray into the Origin arena delivered a 2-1 series triumph.

Paul Green makes a break during the 2001 Origin series.
Paul Green makes a break during the 2001 Origin series. ©NRL Photos

In 2017, Green did a remarkable job to take North Queensland to another grand final despite finishing the regular season in eighth place and being without superstars Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott for most of the season, while Walters savoured more Maroon glory, fighting back to win 2-1 after losing the series opener at home.

Come 2021, and these two proud Queenslanders again find themselves in the brightest of spotlights - Green as the Maroons' 12th coach in their proud Origin history, and Walters at the helm of his beloved but besieged Broncos, the club he represented with distinction on 241 occasions.

It’s a mark of the men that both have ridden plenty of peaks and troughs to find themselves in two of the most important coaching gigs in the land.

For Green, the chance to follow Queensland royalty like Meninga, Wally Lewis, Arthur Beetson and Wayne Bennett is equal parts daunting and exhilarating, but the 48-year-old is ready to rumble.

Like all those legends, he wore the Maroon jersey with pride, playing seven Origins between 1999 and 2001, his final appearance coming in Allan Langer’s comeback game at Brisbane’s ANZ Stadium in the ’01 decider.

Match Highlights: Maroons v Blues

Playing hooker that night, Green lapped up every moment of the Alfie revival as the Maroons belted the Blues 40-14.

Just as the night of July 1, 2001 is etched in Queensland footy folklore, so too October 4, 2015, when the Cowboys came of age on their 21st birthday, and Green was there for both of them.

Big games, big pressure, big memories to draw on.

Maroons announce Green as new coach

After biding his time for five years until he was free of NRL commitments, Green is ready to pour his heart and soul into the Queensland job and match wits with another old teammate, his old Roosters captain Brad Fittler.

The Maroons officially announced Green's appointment on Thursday but you can bet your life planning had already begun for the job of defending the shield won in such remarkable circumstances by Bennett just three months ago.

There will be the usual roll call of FOGs on hand to offer words of wisdom to the new mentor, including Storm legend Billy Slater, who missed out this time on the top job but is being groomed to one day tread in the footsteps of Artie and The King, Big Mal and Fatty, Kevvie and Greeny.

2021 men's State of Origin series

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The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.