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Cowboys legend Johnathan Thurston flew back home to North Queensland after hearing of the tragic death of his former coach Paul Green.
The NRL icon had flown to Sydney to commentate on the clash between Melbourne and Penrith, however, flew back home after being left ‘absolutely devastated’ by the news.
The rugby league community is mourning following the sudden death of the former premiership-winning coach.
It was confirmed that the 49-year-old had sadly taken his own life.
Channel 9 confirmed that Thurston had been distraught by the news, and was unable to conduct his commentary duties that night.
James Bracey told viewers during the broadcast: “Our mate Johnathan Thurston was meant to be with us here.
“We send our condolences to JT, who’s hurting.”
Thurston had an incredibly personal relationship with Green and famously won the 2015 grand final with his Cowboys coach at the time.
Cameron Smith said on Channel 9: “I spent a couple of hours with JT this afternoon. He was absolutely devastated, as were many of the players and his teammates in that Cowboys outfit that were coached by Paul Green.
“We just want to send our best wishes to all those players and particularly our mate JT. He’s flying home right now actually to be with his family.
“Mate, we feel for you and as the entire rugby league community do for everyone that was involved with Paul Green and his family, we wish you all the very best.”
The 49-year-old was a phenomenal player before becoming a coach, representing Queensland seven times and playing for the Cronulla Sharks, Cowboys, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta Eels, and Brisbane Broncos.
Smith continued: “Many people think of him as a coach but he was such a wonderful player as well - played close to 160 NRL games, played in a grand final with the Sharks in the Super League season, played for Queensland, represented Australia in a Test match.
“Just so very sad to hear of his passing and we send our best wishes to the entire Green family.”
Green’s wife Amanda and children Emerson and Jed released a heartbreaking statement.
The statement read: “Today we are devastated.
“We have lost a devoted husband, loving father and wonderful brother and son. We cannot find the words that would come close to expressing our feeling, however, we would like to extend our thanks to those who have reached out to us with their love and support.
“Paul was loved by so many and we know that this news will generate immense interest, however at this time we ask for privacy.
“Our family is still trying to understand this tragedy and we request space and time as we come to terms with this loss. Thank you.”