PENCILLED IN: George Sawyer had his artwork of rugby league legend Mal Meninga signed by him in person at UQ Ipswich on Wednesday morning.
PENCILLED IN: George Sawyer had his artwork of rugby league legend Mal Meninga signed by him in person at UQ Ipswich on Wednesday morning. Rob Williams

QUEENSLAND rugby league legend Mal Meninga has come across many fans in his glittering career, but none quite like George Sawyer.

During a visit to Ipswich last week Mr Meninga was surprised by Ipswich sporting identity Mr Sawyer, who had a special item of memorabilia he wanted to share with the Queensland State of origin coach.

The long-time fan of Mr Meninga recreated a special poster of the rampaging centre, released upon his retirement in 1994.

The collage of pictures captures big Mal in his prime playing for NRL side the Canberra Raiders and his representative career.

Mr Sawyer replicated the sketch in a lead-pencil drawing, capturing the finest details with differing shades of grey.

The pair met for the first time as Mr Meninga left a conference at Ipswich's UQ campus, where Mr Meninga spoke in his role as a Work safe ambassador.

The Green Machine legend said Mr Sawyer had done a tremendous job with the sketch.

"I think George is a very talented artist ... He's done a tremendous job of it in pencil - he's very, very talented," he said.

"Obviously he's a well known local and he's done a terrific job and he has been talking about all the other people and animals he's done.

"It's always nice for people like George to turn up and show up and show me what he's done."

Mr Sawyer played on the wing during his time in the Navy, before switching codes to hockey and playing to the age of 60.

Meeting Mr Meninga made his day. "I've always been a big fan of Mal," he said.

Now 78, Mr Sawyer has always been interested in drawing but has turned his attention to it once his playing days were over.

"Pencils. That's what I mainly do now. I used to do a lot of pastels," he said. Mr Meninga put a group of 20 Ipswich business leaders through their paces in a skills session before speaking about the importance of workplace health and safety.



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