Paul Green and Johnathan Thurston embrace after winning the 2015 premiership with the Cowboys. Green took over the team in 2014 and only a year later he led the Townsville club to its first ever NRL premiership.
It’s remembered as one of the most exciting grand final finishes in the history of the game. With the final play of regular time, Michael Morgan flicked a pass to Kyle Feldt who scored to level the board, before Thurston’s conversion hit the upright and the game went to golden point. Thurston’s field goal then clinched victory.
A devastated Morgan spoke to Triple M radio after learning of his former coach’s death.
“He was more than influential (in my rugby league career), he helped me carve out the career that I had,” Morgan said. “It’s no coincidence that once he took over he gave me an opportunity at fullback, a position I’ve never played in before, and taught me … about the game.
“You grow up playing it, you think you know everything but he just opened up a new world to the actual knowledge of the game for me and I’ve never been able to thank him enough.
“Something that Greeny brought up when he first got there (at the Cowboys) was what people said about us. He made us look in the mirror and say, ‘what do we think about ourselves? What do other people think of us? And who do we want to stand for as a club?’.
“Like I said, there was no coincidence the success we started to have after he arrived – he brought a very strong-minded mentality to the group. He used to say, ‘Don’t be the first to blink with the opposition’ – so you hang in there for as long as you need to and it was all about being mentally tough and getting through things. He really reshaped and rebuilt the club once he got here.”