Maroons supporters will be able to ‘high five’ coach Mal Meninga on their next Origin triumph, with a bronzed statue of the Queensland coach unveiled at Suncorp Stadium.
The 200 kilogram statue, sculpted by Coomera-based sculptor artist Liam Hardy, becomes the fourth Queensland legend to be immortalised at the spiritual home of rugby league.
On the day of the 100th State of Origin match, Premier Campbell Newman said it was the perfect ‘welcome’ to the opposing New South Wales team.
“The entire state is behind Mal and the Queensland team as they battle it out for an historic ninth straight series win,” Mr Newman said.
“Mal has arguably played a greater role than anyone else in Queensland’s Origin success, as both a player and a coach.
“During his playing days he was one of the most damaging runners in the game. He can now also add Origin’s most successful coach to his list of accolades.
“It is fitting that the statue will see Queenslanders celebrate Mal’s Origin legacy for years to come.”
Queensland Coach, Mal Meninga, paid tribute to Origin players past and present for their role in his career.
"It's a tremendous honour to be acknowledged in illustrious company with Arthur, Darren and Wally,” Mr Meninga said.
"I would like to thank the current team, staff and all the players who have allowed me to be placed in this position. Without them it simply doesn't happen.
"Thank you also to the Queensland Government, Channel Nine and AEG Ogden for investing the resources to bring this to life.”
Recreation and Sport Minister Steve Dickson said the State Government contributed $10,000 towards the statue with funding partners AEG Ogden and Nine Entertainment Company splitting the remaining costs.
“The Queensland Government is proud to celebrate Mal’s contribution to the game and I thank the funding partners for helping to make this project a reality,” Mr Dickson said.
“Origin is one of those experiences which unite us as Queenslanders and in a few hours’ time we’ll all be cheering for the boys in Maroon.
“The story for Mal and the Queensland team isn’t finished yet. Their performance tonight will inspire a new generation of Queenslanders to pick up a football and get active - a key goal of the Government’s Get in the Game program.
“We are keen to encourage more young Queenslanders to get involved in recreation and sport, and events like State of Origin really help to motivate kids to pick up a ball and have fun with their friends.
Premier - The Honourable Campbell Newman
Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing - The Honourable Steve Dickson