Premier Campbell Newman today announced that Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga would be the next Rugby League legend immortalised with a statue at Suncorp Stadium.
Mr Newman said the Maroons mentor would be honoured in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Queensland as both a player and coach.
“Mal is an icon of the game and though his coaching career is not over, the time is right for him to be honoured alongside fellow legends Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer and Arthur Beetson at Suncorp Stadium, the spiritual home of Rugby League in Queensland,” Mr Newman said.
“We’ll begin discussions with Mal as to the appropriate image with which to capture him, whether it’s as a damaging Maroons centre or the coach that led Queensland to eight straight Origin series wins.
“When we approached AEG Ogden and the Nine Entertainment Company they were eager to support the proposal as funding partners and on behalf of all Queenslanders, my government has agreed to help make this project a reality.”
Mr Newman assured Mr Meninga that the statue’s plaque would leave plenty of room for future Origin wins.
"I am humbled by the honour to stand alongside such greats of the game in Wally, Darren and Artie,” Mr Meninga said.
"I hope my statue will be a reminder to all Queenslanders of the magnificent State of Origin team that I've had the pleasure to coach over the past eight seasons.
"This is an honour I share with them.”
Recreation and Sport Minister Steve Dickson said the State Government would contribute $10,000 towards the statue and that AEG Ogden and Nine Entertainment Company would split the remaining costs, which are expected to total around $70,000.
“It is hard to imagine we will ever see the likes of such a squad again, let alone eight straight Origin series wins. And the good thing is the story isn’t finished yet,” Mr Dickson said.
“The statue will stand as a permanent reminder of Queensland’s dominance over New South Wales and the achievements of Meninga’s champion Queensland Origin teams.”
AEG Ogden Chairman and CEO, Harvey Lister, said it was only a matter of time before Meninga stood alongside the other Queensland champions at Suncorp Stadium.
“The inclusion of Big Mal on the Caxton Street plaza will provide League fans with another meeting place before games and to celebrate the history of this wonderful game at Suncorp Stadium,” Mr Lister said.
Nine Events Managing Director Geoff Jones said they were very proud to play a part in recognising a true legend at one of the greatest sports stadiums in the world – Suncorp Stadium.
“Rugby League is in our blood at NECo, whether through the Nine Network’s longstanding partnership with the NRL as Official broadcaster, or connecting millions of fans to the game day experience as ticketing partner to the NRL,” Mr Jones said.
QRL Chief Executive, Rob Moore, said Mal is an extremely humble man and the statue would have taken him by surprise.
“But it’s an honour that he thoroughly deserves when you look at his playing and coaching achievements, as well as the manner in which he has conducted himself off the field,” Mr Moore said.