North Queensland coach Paul Green has received a horror flashback ahead of an NRL finals clash he hopes only brings fond memories.

A question supposed to bring back fond memories has triggered a horror flashback for North Queensland coach Paul Green ahead of this weekend’s must-win NRL finals clash with Brisbane.

Green was initially sitting pretty on Tuesday, naming an unchanged line-up after his top five team locked in a home final with a record 10th straight win in Townsville.

However, the Cowboys mentor was squirming in his chair when a reporter innocently asked how the build-up compared with the first North Queensland-Brisbane NRL final held in Townsville back in 2004.

Green was on the Broncos roster 10 years ago but had been axed ahead of the historic clash in Townsville, effectively ending his glittering 10-year playing career.

Green never played again after helplessly watching NRL finals rookies North Queensland beat Brisbane for the first time, dumping them out of the 2004 title hunt with a 10-0 win in front of more than 25,000 delirious Cowboys fans.

“That was the end of my season. It was a pretty ordinary week for me to be honest – it was not a game I wanted to miss,” Green said.

“No one likes being dropped but thanks for reminding me of that.”

Green joked that at least he wouldn’t be dropped this week as the fifth-placed Cowboys prepared to inflict another defeat on arch rival Brisbane on Saturday night.

“Hopefully I have gone past that point now,” laughed Green who also played for the Cowboys from 1999-2000.

“I am as competitive as the next guy. I want to win as much as anyone else.”

Green hopes to have much more pleasant memories of this week – and the early signs are good.

“I am getting the odd stranger on the street wishing me all the best which is nice,” Green said.

“They certainly love their footy up here and now that we are coming into semi-final time everyone is getting a bit more excited.

“It’s important to enjoy it but you can’t let it distract you.”

Green had the luxury of naming the same team that denied Manly the minor premiership with a last round 30-16 win in Townsville – their seventh win from the last eight games.

Now he wants the Cowboys to go “up a notch”.

“I want a bit more polish, a bit more intensity,” he said.

Green disagreed that Brisbane were “more dangerous” and looking to do some finals damage after relying on other results to scrape into the top eight.

“Many people expected them not to make the finals so I am sure they are pretty keen to prove everyone wrong … (but) we will be just as desperate,” he warned.

“We are in the same boat – if you lose that’s the end of your season.”