On the cusp of his first finals series, Todd Payten feels he owes Paul Green for helping him carve out a career as an NRL coach.
The Cowboys were still reeling on Friday after the death of their former mentor Green, who led the side to their maiden premiership in 2015.
Their club chaplain has met with club veterans who played under Green, who oversaw 167 games between 2014-2020, with welfare specialists and psychologists also available.
The NRL has also deployed professional support services for Cowboys players and staff.
Payten was an assistant to Green when North Queensland triumphed in the grand final over Brisbane 17-16 and said the experience had made him a better coach.
"Myself and my family owe him a great deal of gratitude," Payten told reporters on Friday.
"He gave me an opportunity to bring my family up here when I didn't have a job, and that was his decision.
"He made me a better coach in many different ways, certainly challenged everyone around him to be better and you know, he was good company. He was a good father and was a good person."
It's been a difficult 24 hours for the Cowboys with a clash against the Sydney Roosters at the SCG looming.
Green led the club to two grand finals in three years, transforming a side with NRL great Jonathan Thurston and his legacy as North Queensland's maiden premiership-winning coach is cemented.
Asked if he felt pressure in filling the big shoes Green left behind following a golden era in Cowboys' history, Payten said he never looked at it that way.
"He is always going to be the coach of our maiden premiership here and will be etched in our history books," Payten said.
"He's had a significant contribution to our club and he's going to be sorely missed."