The Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) have honoured Queensland and Wallabies great John Eales with a statue at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The giant bronze sculpture is the first rugby union statue to be erected at the stadium.
Dignatories and an array of former Wallabies and Reds players were on hand at the unveiling ceremony.
John Eales said: “I certainly don’t see this as an individual accolade. I see this as a representation and celebration of the wonderful history of Rugby Union in Queensland.”
Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said: “John Eales is an icon of our sport and it is only fitting that he is now forever enshrined here at this iconic venue in his beloved home of Queensland.
“The statue is symbolic not only of John’s extraordinary career and influence in Rugby, but also the game’s deep history and connection with the people of Queensland. It represents every Rugby player who has taken the field to represent their club, school, town, State, or Country.”
Eales felt a little uncomfortable with the situation, but was pleased with what it does for Rugby Union.
The ceremony also doubled as the St.George Queensland Reds official 2019 season launch ahead of their first home match on Saturday evening against the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium.
Reds head coach and fellow World Cup winning lock Brad Thorn said: “John is a proud Queenslander and a humble man. He’s achieved outstanding success in maroon for Queensland and in the green and gold for Australia and this statue is recognition of this.”
The striking statue was sculpted by Liam Hardy, who also immortalised fellow Queensland sporting legends Laura Geitz, Mal Meninga and Arthur Beetson in bronze.
Beetson, Meninga and fellow Queensland Rugby League greats Darren Lockyer and Wally Lewis have statues already situated in the Northern Plaza, while Eales’ sculpture sits on the opposite side of Suncorp Stadium in the Southern Plaza.
A proud Queenslander, Eales is Australia’s most successful Rugby captain. His stature in Australian Rugby is so grand, the award for the Wallabies’ best player each year is named after him – The John Eales Medal.
Some of Eales’ playing achievements for both Queensland and Australia:
• 109 matches for Queensland (1990-2001), 16 as Captain
• 611 points for Queensland – 10 tries, 101 conversions and 121 penalties
• Won two Super Rugby championships for Queensland in 1994 and 1995
• Named in Queensland’s Team of the Century in 1999
• 1997 Stan Pilecki Medal – Queensland’s Players’ Player
• 44 matches for Brothers (1990-2001) – 12 tries, 7 conversions, 1 drop goal
• Named in Brothers’ Old Boys Team of the Century in 2001
• 86 Tests for Australia (1991-2001), a record 55 as Captain
• Won 66 of 86 Tests – 77.9% winning record
• Retired the most capped international lock in Rugby Union history
• 173 points for Australia – 2 tries, 31 conversions and 34 penalties.
• World’s highest scoring Test forward
• Captained Australia in their first match at Lang Park – July 1996 vs All Blacks
• One of only five Australians to have won two Rugby World Cups – captained victorious 1999 side
• Five Bledisloe Cup wins – 1992, 1994, 1998, 2000 and 2001
• Captained Australia to victory over the 2001 British and Irish Lions
• Played 20 Tests against the All Blacks for 11 wins
• Captained 11 Tests against the All Blacks for 6 wins