A grief stricken Johnathan Thurston has revealed that he regularly consulted a psychologist and urged others to seek mental health advice after the shock death of mentor and mate Paul Green.
Thurston, who spearheaded Green's Cowboys team to their historic 2015 premiership, struggled to hold back tears on Channel Nine's 100% Footy as he declared: "The days are gone of 'she'll be right'."
It was the first time Thurston had spoken publicly since Green's death last Thursday as he was too upset to perform his role with the network's commentary team during Round 22 matches.
“It’s been quite difficult, it has been a tough few days for everyone," said Thurston, who was also a member of Green's Queensland coaching staff during last year's State of Origin series.
"I have got a range of emotions going through me each and every day; playing with the kids and thinking of the good times I had with Greeny, and then I think that he is not going to be here ever again and I get sad. How did it come to this."
Revealing that he had consulted a psychologist during his illustrious playing career and since retiring at the end of the 2018 season, Thurston encouraged others to seek help for mental health issues.
"Mental health doesn’t discriminate. It can grab you and take you to a place where you feel like the only option is to go down that path and commit suicide," Thurston said.
“For all of us - not only men, but society - I think we need to talk about our feelings.
Taumalolo: Speak up and have someone to talk to
“I am sure that everyone has got someone close that they can talk to about what is going on in their lives and what they are going through, just to be there to listen to a friend.
“I don’t have all the answers but throughout my life I have reached out to someone professionally to help me. This person has been able to give me building blocks to get me through what I have been going through.
"I understand that people don’t have a psychologist and things like that but there are help lines out there that you can call, and hopefully a GP you can talk to about getting that mental health check."
Thurston choked back tears as he spoke about the need for attitudes towards mental health to change.
“Mental health has really come to the forefront in the last 10-to-15 years and before that it was an era of ‘she’ll be right, mate’. Well, it won’t be right. It’s not going to be right," he said.
“We need to be there for our mates and to get them to talk about their feelings, and what they are going through, and to seek professional help if they need it.
“The days are gone of 'she’ll be right'. Suicide has taken far too many lives in this country and we need to be able to talk about it."
The playmaking great paid tribute to Green, who coached North Queensland for seven seasons until 2020 and was poised to join the Dolphins next year as an assistant coach to Wayne Bennett.
“He loved to bring people together, he loved to be the life of the party; whether it was for a barbecue, a glass of red or being down the park with the kids," Thurston said.
"He just loved being around people and he was a very considerate person. He always wanted to know how you were doing, how you were feeling, what was going on in your life.
"If there was anything that he could do to help you with that he would do that. He had a massive heart on him.
"He was a high achiever in his life and it is still quite difficult to understand how this has all unfolded but I have got some amazing memories with him and that is what I am holding on to now."
Green's family have announced the initial date and location for the funeral and celebration of his life.
The event, which will be live-streamed, will be held on Tuesday, August 30, at the grounds of Kougari Oval – home of the Wynnum Manly Seagulls
Private invitation and public events will be held to commemorate the life of Paul Green. Further details will be released later this week.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.