League: Queensland playing for Beetson

Ben Hannant. Photo / Getty Images
Ben Hannant. Photo / Getty Images

Ben Hannant says Queensland will be inspired by the memory of legend Arthur Beetson in Wednesday night's opening State of Origin rugby league match.

It was big Artie's influence that convinced Gold Coast-born fellow prop Hannant to launch his NRL career with the Sydney Roosters in 2005 before he found his way to Brisbane the following season.

The emotion was evident when Hannant was asked if paying tribute to Beetson, who died of a heart attack last December, would be a big motivation for Queensland as they chase a seventh straight series victory.

"It was a massive loss,'' said Hannant of Beetson, whose inspirational performance in the front row in the inaugural Origin clash at Lang Park in 1980 did much to ensure the concept's success.

"He had a big influence on me going to the Roosters ... he was just a bloke who genuinely cared about everyone. He always knew everyone's name and he always went that extra mile for everyone.

"We spoke about it at the beginning of the week, the history of the jersey, the people who have worn it.

"It's something that means a lot to us to put it on and to know he wore that first jersey for Queensland.''

Hannant said coach Mal Meninga had spoken early on about honouring Beetson's memory in the first Origin clash. Beetson is one of three former Queensland Origin players to have died, along with Ross Henrick and Peter Jackson.

"A lot was spoken about Artie at the beginning of the week and the other Queensland players who've passed away,'' said Hannant.

"The legacy that they left for us, it's now not just up to us to uphold it, but to leave our own legacy.

"It's very important for us to do that.''

Hannant said Queensland would have give everything for 80 minutes to beat a NSW side which was the strongest in some years.

"They've picked a big pack with a lot of skill as well,'' he said.

"We won't just have to control their big blokes. They've got their back-rowers who like to come back underneath you to try and find a lazy defender or a tired defender.''

Hannant said there was little better than being involved in a Queensland Origin camp.

"I love everything about Origin - it's like Christmas time to me,'' he said.

"I love the training, seeing blokes like Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, just the skill they've got and then opposing them at training.

"They're all great guys and you've got Alfie (Allan) Langer in camp. You play the toughest game of footy there is on Wednesday with your mates.

"You bleed for each other, you put in for each other and, if the end result comes off, it's fantastic.''

- AAP

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