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Emotional Taumalolo remembers Paul Green and sends out mental health plea

An emotional Jason Taumalolo has opened up on the struggles that North Queensland have faced coming to terms with the death of beloved coach Paul Green.

The Cowboys captain, fronting the media for the first time since Green’s tragic passing on Thursday after his side’s 32-18 defeat to the Roosters, was clearly struggling as he spoke about the coach who led the club to its first Premiership in 2015.

“It’s been a big few days, given what’s happened,” he said. “There’s no real words to express what’s happened over the last few days and how it’s affected a lot of people in the rugby league community and families.

“I can’t imagine what Amanda and the kids are going through right now.”

The news broke on Thursday lunchtime and the Cowboys travelled to Sydney yesterday for the game, leaving little time to react for a playing group that features many who were at the club during Green’s tenure, including Taumalolo himself.

“What has happened has rattled most of us and it’s going to take some time to get over,” he said.

“I think everyone copes with loss and grief differently. I’m not sure about any of the other boys, everyone is affected differently.

“I’d like to think we’re a tight-knit group and that we’re able to talk to each other when we’re going through a tough time or going through something real difficult.”

The Tonga international made an emotional plea for people to look out for each other after Thursday’s tragedy.

“Everyone should have someone to talk to, regardless of how small or big a problem is,” he said. “No one should have to carry that pressure around with them.

“I know rugby league teams have their own little group and if anyone is going through something, they have someone that they can talk to about any problems.

Coach Todd Payten, sat beside him in the media conference, was asked if he would be giving his players time off to come to terms with the events of the last week.

“I’m unsure of that,” he said. “We’ll talk as a group, we’ll talk to the leaders. We’ve got a day’s travel tomorrow and we’re not due in until next week and we play on Friday.

“The club and the league have been great with the resources that they’ve provided us as a group. It’s a tough one.

“As Jason touched, everyone is affected differently. Some will have a range of emotions at different times. Some will feel it immediately, some maybe a few days later, some maybe a couple of weeks.

“It’s my job to make sure that we keep an eye out for each other, that everyone feels comfortable that they can come and see me or someone within the club that they can get some help.”

Help is available to anyone experiencing mental health problems, 24 hours a day, by phoning Lifeline on 13 11 14

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