North Queensland Cowboys training at 1300Smiles Stadium. Johnathan Thurston and coach Paul Green. Picture: Evan Morgan
North Queensland Cowboys training at 1300Smiles Stadium. Johnathan Thurston and coach Paul Green. Picture: Evan Morgan

Green to re-sign as Carney D-day draws near

WALLOWING in one of the worst starts to the season in club history, it's the welcome good news the Cowboys needed.

After months of negotiations, off-contract coach Paul Green could announce as soon as today he has re-signed a three-year deal to lead the club into the post-Johnathan Thurston era.

Reports emerged shortly after Saturday's 27-10 home loss to Canterbury that Green has agreed to terms on a contract which will make him the longest-serving coach in club history.

The announcement will be the highlight of a busy week for the Cowboys, with the Todd Carney saga set to be a topic of discussion when NRL boss Todd Greenberg and chief operating officer Nick Weeks visit the club today and tomorrow.

Thurston has previously rated retaining Green as "the club's most important signing".

Back rower Coen Hess is off contract at the end of next year and Green's commitment should make it easier for the club to retain their off contract stars.

"He's obviously a really switched on coach and the boys love playing for him," Hess said.

"For the younger guys like myself, he makes us feel a lot more confident in our ability.

"He gets the best out of his players. He understands everyone's different and react differently to training or how he addresses players."

Rugby league great Brad Fittler said the next test of Green's legacy, which already includes the club's maiden premiership in 2015 and a grand final appearance last year, is to achieve success without Thurston.

"The big challenge for him is to do it without Johnathan Thurston," Fittler said on Nine's The Sunday Footy Show.

"He's been able to get the best out of a great player, and that's transferred onto other players and the club's grown.

"The challenge is to do it without the champion."

Meanwhile, Carney's manager David Riolo is hopeful the playmaker's one-year Cowboys deal will be given the green light this week after the club and Greenberg hold talks.

Greenberg is expected to stipulate the conditions Carney must meet to be given the green light to return to the NRL for the first time since 2014.

"Realistically he's got a lot of hoops to jump through on PR (public relations)," Riolo said. "If you look at his situation compared to other players, and I don't want to highlight any individuals which isn't my place, I don't think there's too many players who have an issue playing against Todd Carney every week.

"I'm not upset by the process, it's what it is and we're working through it.

"It's good he's back training and in that environment."