You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Maroons captains: From Beetson to Cherry-Evans

To captain the Queensland Maroons is a complete honour, as captain Daly Cherry-Evans puts it, and only 15 have had the privilege of doing it since the inception of State of Origin in 1980.

"Just that simple moment of leading out a team is really such a special moment," Cherry-Evans said.

"To have done that for Queensland, in front of a Suncorp Stadium crowd, is dead set a moment I put right next to my debut for Queensland. What an honour."

Being captain of the Maroons was one of the biggest highlights for Greg Inglis.

"Getting that phone call from Kevie, when he goes ‘I want you to be my main man, be a leader’... I was emotional. There were tears. Tears of joy," Inglis said.

"Not too many people get to captain Queensland.

"Running out at Suncorp is a feeling you can never, ever describe. It’s loud, it’s raw, it’s rare. Once again, I am so blessed to have been part of that."

The Carbine Club Queensland will hold a lunch - themed 'Captains of Origin - The first 40 years' and emceed by Peter Psaltis - to celebrate the Maroons captains on Wednesday, June 15, at Suncorp Stadium.

The close connection between the Maroons and the Carbine Club Queensland goes back to 1982 when Origin became a three-game series and every year since, they have held a lunch to celebrate all things maroon.  

Captains attending this year include Wally Lewis, Paul Vautin, Trevor Gillmeister, Kevin Walters, Gorden Tallis and Darren Lockyer. Ben Ikin and sports journalist Robert Craddock will also be on hand.

Queensland Maroons captains

Arthur Beetson: Played 1980

Games played: 1
Games won: 1
Games as captain: 1

Acclaimed as the best ball playing forward in the world in the 1970s, Roma-born Arthur Beetson was big in talent and in stature. After playing 28 Tests for Australia, and being the first Indigenous man to captain Australia in a major sport, between 1966 and 1977 - and 17 matches for New South Wales - Beetson fulfilled a lifetime dream when he captained Queensland in the inaugural Origin match, with John McDonald the coach. The Maroons’ 20-10 victory signalled the start of a new era for the code, and Beetson played a huge role in creating the legend of Origin football, going on to coach the side to four series wins, as well as victory in the stand-alone 1981 fixture. In 2003 he became rugby league’s seventh Immortal.

Wally Lewis: Played 1980-1991

Games played: 30
Games won: 20
Games as captain: 29
Games won as captain: 19
Man of the match (as captain): 8

Wally Lewis came to embody the spirit of Origin football. A young lock forward in the inaugural Origin match in 1980, he made 30 appearances as a five-eighth and captain between 1981 and 1991, winning eight man of the match awards. Lewis made his Test debut against France in 1981 - the only Queensland-based player in the side. He went on to play 33 more Tests for Australia, 24 as captain. Lewis’ try in Game II of the 1989 Origin series is widely regarded as the best individual effort in Origin history. By half-time, Queensland had lost Mal Meninga, Allan Langer and Paul Vautin to injury, with Bob Lindner breaking his leg in the second half. Lewis rallied his men, before scoring the match winner - a breathtaking 30-metre try, which left New South Welshmen scattered in his wake. Fondly referred to as ‘The Emperor of Lang Park’, Lewis was named one of the code’s Immortals in 1999, along with Graeme Langlands.

Paul Vautin : Played 1982-1990

Games played: 22
Games won: 15
Games as captain: 2
Games won as captain: 1

Former Padua College student, Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin captained club, state and country. Vautin had an impressive strike rate for his beloved Maroons, playing in 15 winning sides, in a 22-match career, twice captaining the side in the absence of the injured Wally Lewis.  Vautin is renowned as a media star, but is equally well known as coach of the 1995 Queensland side decimated by Super League defections, masterminding one of the most inspirational series clean sweep wins in Origin history.

Mal Meninga: Played 1980-1994

Games played: 32
Games won: 15
Games as captain: 9
Games won as captain: 3

‘Big Mal’ played 32 Origin matches and coached Queensland 30 times, winning nine series in the process. He made his Queensland debut under the residential rules in 1979, and partnered Chris Close in the centres in the inaugural Origin match in 1980, kicking seven goals in Queensland’s 20-10 win. Meninga made a record four Kangaroos tours of Britain and France, playing under the captaincy of Wally Lewis in 1986, and then succeeding ‘The King’ as Australian skipper in 1990, and then as Queensland skipper in 1992. In 2018, he was named one of rugby league’s Immortals.

Trevor Gillmeister: Played 1987-1996

Games played: 22
Games won: 14
Games as captain: 4
Games won as captain: 3

Trevor Gillmeister famously dragged himself from his hospital bed to lead Queensland to victory in Game III in 1995, the win giving the underdog Maroons a series clean sweep. Gillmeister, known as ‘The Axe’ because of his perfect defensive technique, played 22 matches for his state, four as skipper, and was a big part of the Maroons’ coaching staff for many years.

Allan Langer: Played 1987-2002

Games played: 34
Games won: 17. One draw.
Games as captain: 5
Games won as captain: 2
Man of the match (as captain): 1

After captaining Queensland and Australia in 1998, Alan Langer stunned the rugby league world when he announced his retirement midway through the following season, citing a lack of desire to play the game at the highest level. Two years later he staged a remarkable comeback in the deciding match of the 2001 Origin series, after being brought back from England by coach Wayne Bennett. Affectionately known as ‘Alfie’, Langer is a product of Ipswich football, and is arguably the greatest ever Bronco, leading the club to four premierships. He made his Origin debut in 1987, his selection a controversial one, given his small stature. He was man of the match in the decider that year, and went on to play a total of 37 matches for Queensland, as well as 25 Tests for Australia.

Kevin Walters: Played 1989-1999

Games played: 20
Games won: 10
Games as captain: 1

A talented five-eighth or halfback, the Booval Swifts’ junior made his Origin debut in 1989, the same year as his twin brother, Kerrod. Walters played 20 games in a Maroons jersey, captaining Queensland in his final appearance. He took over from Mal Meninga as Queensland coach in 2016, and won back-to-back series.

Gorden Tallis: Played 1994-2003

Games played: 17
Games won: 5 plus 2 draws
Games as captain: 7
Games won as captain: 3 plus 1 draw
Man of the match (as captain): 1

Known as the ‘Raging Bull’, Gorden Tallis captained Australia in a match against Russia during the 2000 World Cup in Europe, and the following year captained Queensland for the first time, after succeeding Walters as captain of the Broncos. Tallis suffered a career-threatening neck injury, in a club match just two weeks after his first match as Queensland skipper, but overcame dire predictions and returned to football in 2002, captaining Queensland in six more games.

Adrian Lam: Played 1995-2000

Games played: 14
Games won: 5 plus 1 draw
Games as captain: 8
Games won as captain: 2 plus 1 draw

The Wests Mitchelton junior was man of the match in Game III in 1995 - at Suncorp Stadium - with the 24-16 result giving Queensland a 3-0 series win over New South Wales. He was appointed captain in 1999, and a drawn series saw the Maroons retain the Origin shield.

Darren Lockyer: Played 1998-2011

Games played: 36
Games won: 17 plus 2 draws
Games as captain: 22
Games won as captain: 14
Man of the match (as captain): 3

Identified by legendary Broncos scout, Cyril Connell, Lockyer played a record 59 Tests for Australia, 38 as captain. He also played four Super League Tests in 1997. Lockyer started his illustrious career as a fullback, and finished as a five-eighth. He played 16 matches for Queensland as custodian, and 20 as five-eighth. He was skipper when Queensland began its remarkable sequence of eight-straight series wins. Lockyer, who won four premierships with the Broncos, was as well known for his sportsmanship and courage, as much as his elegant, skilful play.

Shane Webcke : Played 1998-2004

Games played: 21
Games won: 8 plus 2 draws
Games as captain: 1

Shane Webcke famously played with a broken arm in the Broncos’ 14-6 win over the Roosters in the 2000 NRL grand final, and displayed the same courage in his 21 appearances for Queensland and 26 Tests for Australia. The Darling Downs junior was three times Dally M Prop of the Year and played 254 NRL games. Webcke and fellow Broncos’ bookend, Petero Civoniceva, were the most respected front row pairing of their era.

Cameron Smith: Played 2003-2017

Games played: 42
Games won: 26
Games as captain: 21
Games won as captain: 13
Man of the match (as captain): 4

Cameron Smith played a record 42 Origin matches for Queensland, 21 as skipper. His seven player of the match awards put him second only to Wally Lewis. The Logan Brothers junior made his Origin debut in 2003, and his Test debut in 2006. Smith played 56 Tests, 33 as skipper, saying farewell to Test football by leading Australia to a 6-0 win over the Wayne Bennett-coached England side in the 2017 World Cup final at Suncorp Stadium. He led Queensland to five series wins. Smith is part of Billy Slater’s coaching staff for the 2022 Origin series.

Greg Inglis: Played 2006-2018

Games Played: 32
Games won: 19
Games as Captain: 2

Greg Inglis, who combined freakish athleticism with sublime skills and brute strength, scored 31 tries in 39 Tests for Australia. He played 32 times for Queensland, scoring 18 tries. The superb Indigenous talent, an inspiration to many across the state and beyond, is also known for his goanna-like try celebration, which originated from a bet with his cousin. 

Billy Slater: Played 2004-2018

Games played: 31
Games won: 17
Games as captain: 1
Games won as captain: 1
Man of the match (as captain): 1

Widely regarded as the finest fullback in the history of the game, current Maroons coach Billy Slater started playing football as a four-year-old with Brothers in Innisfail. The former trackwork jockey drove 20 hours from North Queensland to trial with Norths in Brisbane, and the rest, as they say, is history. He played 31 games for Queensland, scoring 12 tries. He represented Australia 30 times and scored 27 tries. Playing on the wing in his second Origin match at Suncorp Stadium, Slater scored a try never to be forgotten, a chip and chase effort which inspired a 22-18 Queensland victory.

Daly Cherry-Evans: Played 2013-now

Games played: 16
Games won: 8
Games as captain: 9
Games won: 4

Daly Cherry-Evans made his Origin debut as an interchange player in 2013. Cherry-Evans was first in the run-on side for Queensland in 2014 and started in Game II of the 2015 series, but there was a gap of three years before he returned to the Maroons. His finest moment coming as captain of the series-winning 2020 side, which had been labelled the ‘worst ever’ by New South Wales’ critics.

The Carbine Club Queensland lunch - which is emceed by Peter Psaltis and runs from noon until 4pm - will see attendees enjoy a three-course lunch and four-hour beverage package; the cost is $230 per person or Tables of 10 for $2300.

TO RSVP before June 8, click here.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners