The former Wallabies captain John Eales has become the first non- rugby league player to have a statue erected in his honour outside the Brisbane landmark, Suncorp Stadium.
The bronze statue shows Eales being lifted by an anonymous teammate, a team-oriented design that sat well with the Rugby Australia board member.
Eales admitted he knocked back the idea several times when it was first pitched to him.
But having relented, he concedes the monument is great for the code and sends a timely message to the Wallabies and their supporters.
“I don’t think anyone in this situation actually feels worthy,” he said in front of a crowd that included Wally Lewis, who has his own statue on the opposite end of the stadium.
“What was important for me was there’s a lineout in it; that’s uniquely rugby.”
Eales, who enjoyed a 77.9 per cent winning record for Australia, said that sort of teamwork was again shining through in the green and gold.
“There hasn’t been a huge amount said but I know there’s been a stronger unity of purpose across high performance through the game, more than there has been in 10 or more years,” he said.
“The first couple of games of Super Rugby, we’ve seen some really outstanding performances (by Australian sides).
“It’s a World Cup year, it’s a big year. Sport is very much about hope and belief and I’m hopeful it’s going to be a good year.”
Queensland coach Brad Thorn described Eales as an “absolute gentleman” who should inspire his current crop on and off the field.
“He had a nickname ‘Nobody’, because nobody is perfect,” Thorn said.
“What he achieved was incredible; the thing I hope the players also see is a fine human being.
“Just a humble guy; it’s great seeing guys like that get recognised like this.”
-109 matches and two Super Rugby championships for Queensland
– Named in Queensland’s Team of the Century in 1999
– 86 Tests for Australia between 1991-2001, winning 66 and captaining a record 55.
– Captained Australia in their first match at Lang Park (Suncorp Stadium) in 1996.
– One of five Australians to have won two World Cups, 1991 and captaining the victorious 1999 side.
– Five Bledisloe Cup wins and a winning record against the All Blacks (11-9)
(Source:Radio New Zealand)