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Meninga to be honoured with statue

By Laine Clark
Usually rugby league greats are honoured with statues when their work is done.

Not Queensland State of Origin coach Mal Meninga.

In what should sound alarm bells for long suffering NSW fans, Meninga said he was far from done after confirmation he would join fellow greats Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer and Arthur Beetson in bronze outside Queensland league's spiritual home.

Meninga vowed to at least see out the final two years of his contract as Maroons mentor after modestly claiming coaching Queensland to the last eight straight Origin series wins was the sole reason he had been immortalised.

"Let me finish the job first but this is tremendous," laughed Meninga, a veteran of 32 Origins for Queensland and 46 Tests including 23 as captain.

"We are going through a fantastic patch at the moment but this is a legacy that will be left for a lifetime.

"It is unexpected but I will accept on behalf of the footy team.

"I played for Queensland numerous times but I think this is a culmination of what has happened with the Queensland team over the last couple of years.

"The last eight years have been fantastic - it is a wonderful time."

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman proudly made the announcement on Monday night, cheekily claiming the Meninga statue's plaque would leave plenty of room for future Origin wins.

"We'll begin discussions with Mal as to the appropriate image with which to capture him, whether it's as a damaging Maroons centre or the coach that led Queensland to eight straight Origin series wins," he said.

Already Meninga equals former NSW mentor Phil Gould for the record for most Origin games coached at 24 matches.

And Meninga is easily Origin's most successful mentor.

He is contracted until the end of 2015 but has been adamant he will decide his own future.

And it seems he is not finished with yet.

"There is always some speculation but I am pretty comfortable in my position," he said.

"And hopefully we can work towards continuing to be successful."

Queensland Recreation and Sport Minister Steve Dickson said the state government would contribute $10,000 towards the statue and that AEG Ogden and Nine Entertainment Company would split the remaining costs, which are expected to total around $70,000.

"It is hard to imagine we will ever see the likes of such a squad again, let alone eight straight Origin series wins - and the good thing is the story isn't finished yet," Dickson said.

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