Beetson to watch over Origin III
"THIS is the goose that laid the golden egg and we need characters like Ricky Stuart and his niggling to keep this great Origin concept going".
Those were the words from Queensland Origin legend Gene Miles at the unveiling of a bronze Arthur Beetson statue at Suncorp Stadium yesterday, when Beetson was officially recognised as the undisputed Godfather of Origin.
Indeed, it is true the late, great Beetson has given all Origin players, coaches and fans a great big golden egg.
And tonight, 32 years since Beetson's famous first game in a maroon jersey, Blues coach Stuart will be trying to source whatever wisdom he can from this big, shiny gift.
The former Blues and Kangaroos halfback will be desperate to end Queensland's six-year series dominance in the 2012 Origin series decider at Suncorp Stadium.
Stuart has been depicted as a clown and a pest because of his constant jibes aimed at unsettling the Maroons players and coaching staff.
But Miles thinks the former Blues and Australian halfback's words are ideal for promoting tonight's game, which has been billed as the most anticipated in Origin history.
"That's what you come to expect from Ricky. He's a passionate, little, emotional bugger," Miles said.
"That's what this concept needs ... we need characters like Ricky doing that."
Stuart, whose side has enjoyed a largely uninterrupted preparation, has certainly enjoyed promoting this series, regardless of being depicted as a clown or whinger.
"It's been a fantastic, competitive series - the game has probably never been healthier because of it," he said.
Maroons coach Mal Meninga is delighted there is so much hype surrounding tonight's game thanks largely to the past deeds of his history-making outfit.
"We're happy we can provide this sort of entertainment ... it's great for the game and we go out of our way to make sure rugby league is the winner," he said.
Meninga admitted Origin debutant and second-rower Ben Te'o would be "nervous" when he came into the game from the bench.
The record-breaking Maroons coach also slammed suggestions centre Dane Nielsen would be underdone after he reportedly carried a chest injury into camp last week.
Fellow Queensland legend Wally Lewis said he was honoured to have his statue at Suncorp Stadium alongside Beetson's and praised the former front-rower for blazing a trail for so many footballers and fans.
"Many people that turned up to have a look (yesterday), they weren't even born when he was playing or when the first State of Origin was under way," Lewis said. "But they've heard all about the legend of the great man and what assistance package he provided for Queensland."