Athlete
Date Inducted: 01 Dec 1994
Sport: Rugby League
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Hall Of Fame

Malcolm 'Mal' Meninga AM - Rugby League

Powerfully built and stoic through countless injuries and setbacks, Mal Meninga became the first player in the history of the game to be a member of four Kangaroo tours of Great Britain and France. Born in Bundaberg, he was taught the game by his father, and took to it with avidity, dominating well into the 1990s.

Meninga made his first-grade debut at the age of 18 with Souths Magpies in the Brisbane Rugby League and played in the premiership team in 1985. He first played for Queensland in 1979, and helped Queensland to win the first ever State of Origin match against New South Wales in 1980, converting seven goals from seven attempts (he was one of the last players to use the kicking style of punting the end of the football with the toe of the boot).

In 1986, Meninga joined the Canberra Raiders, leading the side to their first premiership in 1989 after overcoming the highly fancied Balmain Tigers in the grand final. The following year Meninga led the Raiders to another grand final victory against the Penrith Panthers, and in 1994, Meninga led the Raiders to their third premiership in six years over the Canterbury Bulldogs, scoring the last try of the match in what was his last game for the Raiders. The Raiders would later honour him by naming the main grandstand at Canberra Stadium, the Mal Meninga Stand.

Meninga played 73 games in all for Australia, including a record 45 Test Matches (captaining 23 between 1990 and 1994), and captained the Queensland State of Origin team for three years from 1992 to 1994. He remains the only player to captain a Kangaroo Tour on two occasions (out of four), 1990 and 1994. On December 4, 1994 at Béziers, France, he captained Australia to a 74-0 victory over the French, scoring the final try of the game, and of his career.

In the mid 80s, UK Club St Helens made an offer to Meninga that he couldn't refuse. Paying £30,000 for his services to play in the Australian off-season Meninga became a Saint for their 1984/85 campaign. He didn't manage to serve a second spell at Knowsley Road, for a variety of reasons, not least a succession of injuries, which also punctuated his career for Canberra Raiders and Australia. Yet he remains a legendary figure in international rugby league, forever remembered for his formidable power, pace and handling ability.

Meninga retired from the game in 1994 having played over 400 first-grade, and 32 State of Origin caps and still looms large as one of the leading figures of league. He also has scored the most points in both Test (72) and State of Origin football (161). In 1989, 1990 and 1992, he was named as the Dally M Representative Player of the Year and in 1990, was named Best Player in the World.

After his retirement, Meninga was appointed coach of the Raiders in 1997, succeeding three time winner Tim Sheens, but achieved only moderate success. Matthew Elliott replaced Meninga as the Raiders coach in 2002.

Meninga returned to Queensland in 2005 opening several successful businesses. In late 2005, he was announced as the new Queensland State of Origin coach, replacing Michael Hagan. He made a successful debut as the Maroons coach in the 2006 Rugby League State of Origin series, guiding Queensland to a 2-1 series victory, its first outright series victory since 2001.

On October 13 he was reappointed as coach for the Maroons for the 2007 and 2008 Rugby League State of Origin series.

Meninga was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to rugby league in 1994.

 

Awards, Honours & Results

13th Rugby League Immortal - 1st August 2018

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When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his of her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness.