Cowboys to Green: Take it or leave it
NORTH Queensland mentor Paul Green is under mounting pressure to sign a $2.8 million contract extension - or face being sensationally moved on as Cowboys coach.
The Courier-Mail can reveal Cowboys hierarchy are frustrated with protracted negotiations and will pull their lucrative three-year offer to Green if he doesn't agree to terms in the coming weeks.
The prospect of losing Green would be a bombshell given his outstanding job in delivering the Cowboys' first premiership in 2015 before steering the club to the grand final last year.
But after six months of high-level talks, the parties have yet to find common ground, prompting chairman Laurence Lancini to seek an answer from Green "sooner rather than later".
Should the stalemate continue, the Cowboys will begin looking for Green's replacement, with off-contract Storm supercoach Craig Bellamy a possible target.
Speaking exclusively with The Courier-Mail, Lancini made it clear he wants Green to stay for another term but says the Cowboys cannot risk being left without a coach for next season.
"I want this deal done sooner rater than later, otherwise we will move on," Lancini said.
"Paul is absolutely my preference, I don't want him to go. But we can only do a deal if both parties agree to it and at the moment, we're not there.
"Up until now, we haven't spoken to any other coach but it will get to the stage where we will have no other choice but to find someone else.
"I don't want this to drag on. We're already into Round 5. This has gone on for six months. Before we know it, State of Origin will be upon us, the season goes quickly and I don't want to be in this position in the middle of the season.
"I have the utmost respect for Paul and we want to see him staying here for the long term but unless we can do a deal shortly, we will have no choice but to start talking to others."
It is understood the Cowboys have tabled a rich, multi-year deal to keep Green in Townsville until the end of 2021.
Lancini will not agree to a one-year extension to avert Green becoming a free agent at the same time as Wayne Bennett. The Brisbane mentor is off-contract at the end of next year and the Broncos view Green as a possible successor at Red Hill.
One sticking point is Green's perceived value at a time when the code has negotiated a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and secured $1.8 billion via a record TV rights deal.
Green is one of six current NRL coaches who have a premiership on their resume. The others are Bennett, Bellamy, Ricky Stuart, Shane Flanagan and Trent Robinson.
Having qualified for two grand finals in three years, Green could earn more than $1 million annually on the open market but his preference is to steer the Cowboys through the post-Johnathan Thurston era.
His manager George Mimis remains hopeful of striking a deal with the Cowboys.
"It would be improper of me to comment publicly on confidential negotiations while they are ongoing," he said.
"Suffice to say that we are engaged in a process with Laurence which we, too, hope will yield a balanced and fair outcome for all parties."
Champion playmaker Thurston, who will retire at season's end, urged Green not to walk away from North Queensland at a delicate time for the club.
"Hopefully Greeny stays," he said. "In my eyes he has been great for my game and a lot of the players that have been here.
"The Cowboys have given him his first coaching opportunity and would love to see him stay.
"A coach like Greeny doesn't come around too often. He has delivered the first premiership and with the squad he's been able to assemble now, there's no doubt that success is part of the future of this club."