Apprentice Green takes on master Bennett

He was the forgotten Queensland halfback punted for the fairytale return of Allan Langer in State of Origin, but now Paul Green can ruin Wayne Bennett’s premiership homecoming in Brisbane.

After playing the first two games of the 2001 series at halfback, Green was shunted to hooker to accommodate the dramatic return of Langer for the deciding third match, won comprehensively by the Maroons.

The risky move remains Origin’s most famous coaching masterstroke from a man regarded as arguably the best clipholder in the business.

But ahead of Sunday’s NRL decider between North Queensland and Brisbane, Green now has the opportunity to show why he also owns one of the brightest minds in the game.

And it’s taken some time to hone.

The former Kangaroos halfback spent four years assisting Bennett at Red Hill between 2005-08 before moving on to claim back-to-back Queensland Cup premierships at Wynnum Manly.

From there, he completed another one-year NRL apprenticeship under Trent Robinson at the Sydney Roosters before he was snatched up to take over from Neil Henry in Townsville.

Both Bennett’s premiership with the Broncos in 2006 and Robinson’s triumph in 2013 came with Green on the coaching staff.

Brent Tate, who spent time at both clubs, knew early on that Green was going to cut it as a first grade coach.

“I played with Greeny at Brisbane and I always knew he was going to be a good coach,” Tate told AAP.

“Greeny’s greatest attribute is that he’s really intelligent.”

For proof, Tate says, you only have to look at the resurgence of Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston, who pocketed a record fourth Dally M medal on Monday night – the past two of which came during the Green era.

Tate, who was an integral part of the Brisbane side in 2006, pointed to Green’s critical recruitments and insertions of Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville in North Queensland’s spine in 2015.

“The way we play our game has really helped Jonno out, especially this year,” he said.

“Bringing Jake in, Cootey, making some decisions like that … that’s really helped Jonno’s game. So of course he can take a lot of credit out of that.”

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