Bronzed Eales joins King at home of footy
THE hardest part of creating a statue of rugby great John Eales outside Suncorp Stadium must surely have been selecting which skill to honour.
Rugby's one-time Captain High and Mighty was unveiled in bronze on Monday as the first non-rugby league figure at footy's spiritual home in Queensland.
The Eales statue is not in the guard of honour beside league legends Wally, Artie, big Mal and Locky because he has the southern plaza all to himself at the Milton Road end of the ground.
The 3.2m statue was crafted by Liam Hardy, who did such a fine job on the Arthur Beetson and Mal Meninga sculptures.
Hardy chose Eales in trademark pose soaring in a lineout.
Equally, he could have gone for Eales kicking the match-winning penalty goal to sink the All Blacks in Wellington in 2000.
Or, straining to great heights to deflect an Auckland Blues' penalty goal attempt that was heading above the crossbar.
Eales pretty much did it all during his decorated 86-Test career and 112 games for Queensland.
The two-time World Cup-winner was synonymous with a golden era for Queensland and Australian rugby and pushed the boundaries of how a lock could play.
Eales had such varied strings to his bow that Irish rugby legend Willie John McBride was awe-struck that Eales could knock over a winning kick after an exhausting 80 minutes against the All Blacks.
"In my day, locks would be in there rucking, wrestling, fighting and jumping. That's all gone,'' McBride said.
"It was a wonderful kick from John Eales but I would have been too shattered to take it.''
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk unveiled the statue with Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and Queensland Reds men's and women's players in attendance.
Eales' mum Rosa, 82, proudly watched on.
Eales said footy mates had already made all the gags about pigeon droppings on his likeness.
He was delighted that the statue would honour his code at large.
"It's great to see rugby recognised at such a great stadium and with a lineout that is unique to the code," Eales said.