League: Ton of motivation for Maroons

By Laine Clark

Brad Beetson at the unveiling of his father's statue yesterday.Picture / Courier Mail.
Brad Beetson at the unveiling of his father's statue yesterday.Picture / Courier Mail.

Out of all the tributes that flowed after Arthur Beetson's statue was unveiled outside Suncorp Stadium yesterday, four words resonated most as the Queensland State of Origin side looked on.

"Do it for him," the Immortal's son Brad said from the podium after turning to look Maroons skipper Cameron Smith square in the eye.

Finding motivation was not a problem ahead of tonight's Origin decider as Queensland look to seal an unprecedented seventh straight series.

But it didn't stop Brad Beetson providing some extra incentive.

"Give'em hell tomorrow night, boys," he added as the entire Maroons squad gathered around the new Beetson statue.

Origin legend Gene Miles said the team had emerged as "the greatest" Queensland side because they had learned from Beetson's teachings.

That included being humble - despite NSW coach Ricky Stuart's recent claim that he hated "Queensland's smugness and their fake graciousness in victory".

"Absolutely, they are humble. That doesn't get enough credit," he said.

"To win six straight series, I don't think that will be achieved again.

"When they come into camp, they check their egos in at the door and they get on wonderfully well.

"Arthur pioneered the relaxed atmosphere in the camp. He taught us how to respect the opposition, be passionate Queenslanders and to go out there and do your best."

Queensland coach Mal Meninga had no doubt Beetson - who died in December 2011 aged 66 - as well as late long-time manager Dick "Tosser" Turner would be watching over them.

"They are part of the reason why we don't want to let Queensland down," he said.

Queensland came out of camp especially for the statue unveiling, bringing back fond memories for Meninga who was part of the first Origin side with Beetson 32 years ago.

"You wanted to play for him - he was larger than life," Meninga said.

Wally Lewis could still remember the roar when Beetson ran out in a Maroons jersey for the first and last time in 1980.

"One of the loudest sounds I have experienced," said Lewis whose statue stands near Beetson and fellow Origin great Darren Lockyer on the Suncorp Stadium concourse.

But not everything went smoothly in that first Origin camp.

"He was the first bloke I met at camp. He didn't beat around the bush," Lewis laughed. "He said, 'To be honest, I don't know a lot about you but, if you couldn't play, you wouldn't have been picked in the side'.

"[But] I felt privileged to have known the man.

"He boosted Queensland rugby league more than any other person despite playing just one [Origin] game."

In a career spanning more than 25 years, Beetson's packed resume included becoming the first indigenous Australian to captain his country in any sport.

Meanwhile, Meninga has dismissed reports centre Dane Nielsen is carrying an injury on the eve of tonight's Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Nielsen reportedly entered Origin camp last week with a chest injury but Meninga was adamant the Melbourne Storm star was 100 per cent fit and ready to go.

The Queensland coach said the return from injury of Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday and debut of aggressive Broncos utility Ben Te'o would add some grunt to the Maroons forward pack which had been shoved around in the first two matches in Melbourne and Sydney. "That's Origin - it is aggressive," said Meninga before Queensland's final training session at Suncorp yesterday afternoon.

"We have been outmuscled in games one and two in particular at times, and it's something we need to address."

Meninga, however, said his players would not go over the top with the aggression and would play the game within the rules and with a fair amount of discipline.

NSW also held their final training run in Brisbane yesterday, feeling the pressure to end Queensland's run of six straight series wins.

- AAP

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