Maroons legend Mal Meninga has been honoured as a Queensland Great, a prestigious award that recognises the lasting, positive difference he has made to the state.
Meninga, the current Australian rugby league coach, is in eminent company – the others to be named in this year’s awards are cricketing great Allan Border, former governor-general Quentin Bryce, music conductor John Curro, and philanthropist Lloyd McDermott, the first Aboriginal person to play for the Wallabies and to be a barrister.
RSPCA Queensland was also included.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Meninga and the other recipients were being recognised for their lifetime of dedication and contribution to the development of Queensland and their role in strengthening and shaping the community.
Since 2001, 80 individuals, 11 institutions and two posthumous recipients had been honoured as Queensland Greats and their names displayed on plaques at Brisbane’s Roma St Parkland.
Mal Meninga's cousin, Leann Wilson, accepted the honour on his behalf. QRL managing director Robert Moore, right, and Arthur Eustace-Earle, NRL government relations adviser for Queensland, also attended.
Bundaberg-born ‘Big Mal’coached the Queensland Maroons to nine State of Origin wins in 10 years, including eight in a row. The last was in 2015, after which he stepped down. He was appointed national coach in December the same year.This year’s awards were held as part of Queensland Week celebrations, June 4–12, 2016.
Meninga also played 32 matches for Queensland and 46 in the Green and Gold. He is the only player to have made four Kangaroo Tours.
The Government praised Meninga, saying “He has used his profile to support, encourage and mentor young players, Indigenous youth, his own Australian South Sea Islander community and the development of rugby league in Queensland.
“He has generously contributed both time and money to numerous charities, educational institutions and sporting associations over the years,” they said.