Eales immortalised with Suncorp Stadium statue

International
by Sam Phillips

Rugby will have its first Suncorp Stadium statue by September, John Eales the man to be immortalised in bronze.

The Wallabies legend joins a prestigious list of rugby league greats enshrined at the famous ground with a statue of his own at the Milton Road end.

It's understood the statue will be unveiled at the Wallabies-Springboks clash on September 8.

Eales' illustrious career for both Queensland and the Wallabies makes him an obvious choice as rugby's first Suncorp statue.Eales had an illustrious career in Wallaby gold. Photo: Getty ImagesA born and bred Brisbane boy, Eales amassed 112 caps for his state and 86 for his country - 55 of those as captain - collecting plenty of silverware along the way.

The Marist College Ashgrove product captained Australia to its 1999 Rugby World Cup win, four Bledisloe Cups, two Tri Nations and a series win against the British and Irish Lions.

The image of Eales lifting the World Cup high above his head will forever be etched in Australian rugby folklore and it is perhaps only surpassed by the famous penalty at the death which retained the Bledisloe Cup in 2000.

His career finished, fittingly, in winning style, claiming a 2-1 series victory over the British and Irish Lions.Eales will be the first rugby great to be immortalised at Suncorp. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan HertelEales' high standing within the game has continued after his playing days, a successful businessman and long time director on the Rugby Australia board.

Speaking at the Milton Road entrance to Suncorp Stadium on Monday afternoon, Eales said it was a "great honour" to be the first rugby player recognised at the home of Queensland sport.

"I was privileged to play here, represent my country here and to play with some great Australian players here in some great and very memorable matches, as well," Eales said.

"I certainly want to say that I stand here very reluctantly because if I was selecting the subject of the statue, it wouldn't be me standing here before you today.

"It's one of those moments that you do feel a bit uncomfortable but I do, at the same time, feel very honoured."


The 300kg bronze statue, to be sculpted by Liam Hardy, who created the Mal Meninga and Arthur Beetson statues at the other end of the stadium, strikes Eales in a unique rugby pose - a lineout.

Fans will be able to pose with photos as though they are lifting Eales - a superb initiative.

"It's a unique rugby feature and that's one of the key reasons why this was selected as the choice for the statue," Eales said.

"Being a lineout, it also emphasises the fact that rugby is genuinely a team game.

"I wouldn't be standing here today if it wasn't for all my teammates over many, many years, that I played with."

A few of those teammates have already fired a few cheeky texts Eales' way, suggesting pigeons may have their way with the statue.