Myles, McQueen honoured to carry Beetson's legacy
It is impossible to celebrate the 100th game of State of Origin without looking back to the very first.
July 8, 1980 was the night the game changed forever and the sight of Arthur Beetson, for years a reluctant New South Welshman, leading his birth state onto Lang Park inspired a new generation of Queenslanders to play with unbridled passion and pride.
Neither Nate Myles nor Chris McQueen were born when Artie played his one and only Origin but of the Maroons who will take the field next Wednesday night, they are the two who will be most closely connected with the legacy that lives on to this day.
In honour of Beetson's contribution to the history of State of Origin, the Queensland Rugby League will retire his No.11 jersey for one night only, a fitting tribute for a man who also coached his state to four Series wins yet passed too soon less than three years ago.
Although Artie wore No.11 in his only Origin appearance, the switch of numbering of forwards positions in 1989 in Australia to fall in line with other nations means that Myles won't wear the same number, but he is conscious of the position he shares.
Brad Beetson, the eldest of Artie's four sons, presented Myles with his jersey in Monday night's ceremony at Suncorp Stadium but it wasn't until afterward back in the team hotel that the symbol of what it represented struck a deep chord.
"That actually hit home quite a bit last night," Myles said of the presentation. "Firstly to meet [Brad] and realise just how nice he was, it hits home a bit there.
"I can't talk enough in regards to Brad and his family and Artie and all that sort of stuff, how they have influenced what we get to do and this whole Origin concept. It home last night and I was really blown away by that.
"Artie was a great man and everyone knows the legacy he has created. I did get to meet him a couple of times which I'm very fortunate about but it was fantastic last night.
"I've got no doubt that what he started is now running [within the Queensland camp]. Every year that we get into these positions people such as Mal [Meninga], 'Gilly' (Trevor Gillmeister), 'Choppy' Close, they just refer to that one man and what he created along with 'Tosser' Turner as well.
"I feel a bit funny commenting on it because I just don't want to say anything wrong in regards to that man and what he's left."
Rabbitohs back-rower Chris McQueen has been named to start in the second row but rather than No.11 will wear No.18. Having worn the famous No.11 Queensland jersey in games two and three of last year's Series, McQueen is honoured to let it rest for one match in tribute.
"Wearing the No.18 jersey, I feel that that's actually a big honour for me, to rest that jersey for the game," McQueen said.
"Obviously he did a lot for Queensland and for rugby league in general so to get to wear that No.11 last year and to get to rest it this year and wear a different jumper, I feel privileged."
Current Queensland coach Mal Meninga turned 20 years of age the day of the first Origin match in 1980 and now, 34 years later, has overseen the most dominant period of success the Origin concept has ever seen.
He may share a few stories over the next seven days of what it was like to run out alongside Artie all those years ago or the commitment players felt to do him proud when they played under him but what's clear from talking with Myles is that the current crop hold Meninga in similarly high regard.
"I'll say no, I'll definitely say no," Myles said when asked whether Meninga is given enough credit for the record-breaking run.
"I think everything that this team's about is through Mal and the structures he's implemented and the way he always tries to improve himself and the team. I don't think there's enough credit towards him."