ARL Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone, has today hailed Arthur Beetson OAM as a courageous trailblazer whose skill and passion for Rugby League led the way for thousands of Indigenous Australians.

Arthur passed away on the Gold Coast today aged 66, leaving behind a legacy of sporting and cultural achievement that will never be forgotten.

Mr Johnstone today joined Indigenous leaders across the country in paying tribute to Arthur, who was the first Indigenous Australian to captain any national sporting team.

“While today people embrace the All Stars and concepts of practical reconciliation, few can understand the pioneering courage of a man like Arthur, who stood proudly for who he was and who led a nation,” Mr Johnstone said.

“He was an inspiration for all Indigenous Australians and what he has done for his people will never be forgotten.”

ARL Indigenous Council Board Member, Mr Larry Corowa, said Arthur paved the way for future generations of Indigenous players.

“Arthur was my hero growing up, he was a role model for me,” Mr Corowa said.

“It’s tremendously sad for the Indigenous Rugby League community for one of our Immortals, for one of our heroes, to leave us.”

Indigenous All Stars captain Johnathan Thurston said: “Artie was an inspiration to all Indigenous Rugby League players, including myself, and will always be remembered as one of the greats of the game.”

ARTHUR HENRY BEETSON
Born: January 21, 1945, Roma, Queensland

CLUB CAREER
Club
Years
Games
Tries
Goals
FG
Pts
Roma Cities
1963
Redcliffe
1964-1965, 1981
Balmain
1966-1970
74
6
-
1
20
Hull Kingston Rovers
1968-1969
12
1
-
-
3
Eastern Suburbs
1971-1978
131
17
-
-
51
Parramatta
1979-1980
18
1
-
-
3
Total
235
25
-
1
77
REPRESENTATIVE CAREER
City - Country
City Seconds
1971
1
-
-
-
0
City Firsts
1966-1977
9
-
-
-
0
Total
10
-
-
-
0
Sydney
v Touring Teams
1966
1
-
-
-
0
New South Wales
v Queensland
1966-1977
17
3
-
-
9
v Touring Teams
1966
1
-
-
-
0
Total
18
3
-
-
9
Queensland
State of Origin
1980
1
-
-
-
0
v New South Wales
1981
2
-
-
-
0
Total
3
-
-
-
0
Australia
Test Matches & World Cup
1966-1977
28
1
-
-
3
Tour Matches
1972-1975
19
3
-
-
9
Total
47
4
12
Grand Total
All Senior Matches
314
32
-
1
98

Beetson toured with the Kangaroos in 1973 and played in World Cup sides in 1968, 1972, 1975 and 1977 (as captain).

He captained Australia in two Tests (1973 v France, 1974 v Great Britain) and went on to coach Australia in 1983 (2 Tests against New Zealand – winning one and losing one).

He captained Queensland in the inaugural State of Origin match in 1980. He coached the side from 1981-84 and 1989-90 to 11 wins and five losses. He coached Queensland to series wins in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1989.

At club level, Beetson coached Easts from 1977-78 and 1985-88, taking them to the finals in 1977 and 1987. He coached Cronulla in 1992-93.

He was named an Immortal of the game by Rugby League Week in 2003.

Source: David Middleton, League Information Services