Johnathan Thurston says North Queensland can't afford to lose Paul Green, claiming the off-contract mentor will rival Wayne Bennett as one of the NRL's coaching greats.
Thurston is keeping his fingers crossed North Queensland will re-sign Green after a report claimed Brisbane had approached him as they plan for life after Bennett.
Bennett's Broncos deal expires at the end of 2019 and a long-time club third party representative reportedly sounded out Green about filling the master coach's shoes.
"I would love to see him stay. He has certainly got the credentials and the mind to be able to be among the likes of Bennett and Bellyache (Melbourne's Craig Bellamy)," said Cowboys co-captain Thurston on Thursday.
North Queensland are vying for 2018 title favouritism but, in an apparent nod toward off-contract playmaker Michael Morgan, Thurston suggested players mulling over their future would wait to see if Green was staying.
"I would say if I was in that position I would certainly be holding off and waiting for Greeny to sign," Thurston said.
"He would be a big part of my future going forward."
Friday night's trial match between the Cowboys and premiers Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium - a grand final rematch - will double as a testimonial for Thurston and Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith, celebrating their glittering careers.
But Thurston claimed Green was the one with the Midas touch at North Queensland.
Thurston has fond memories of past coaches Graham Murray and Neil Henry since first moving north in 2005.
Yet he marvelled at what 2015 premiership winning coach Green had achieved since lobbing four years ago.
"Muz was great for the club, took them to the first grand final and Neil was great for the club as well but a coach like Greeny doesn't come along too often," Thurston said.
"He has delivered the first premiership and with the squad he has assembled no doubt success is part of the future of this club."
For the record, Green did his best to hose down the Broncos speculation.
"I don't read any of that stuff. I'm just doing my best to do a deal here (to stay at the Cowboys), so hopefully that's how it will turn out," Green told Sky Sports Radio.
"I'm in no rush. I'm comfortable with where it's at, the discussions are ongoing.
"It hasn't been a distraction. We've got a pretty good group from that point of view, so I don't see it as an issue at this stage."