League legend to be immortalised in bronze

Date: Dec 05, 2011

One of Australia's best-known sports personalities will be immortalised in bronze, allowing his legend to inspire future generations.

Arthur Beetson - one of the country's leading rugby league players in his day - died at the age of 66 from a massive heart attack while cycling near his home on the Gold Coast on December 1.

Known to his friends as "Artie", the sportsman's likeness is to be cast in bronze and displayed at a special public memorial event at Lang Park on December 18.

Speaking on Beetson's passing, chief executive officer of the National Rugby League David Gallop called him "a true champion".

"It is almost impossible to do justice to his contribution to the game and the effect he had on the lives of so many people," said Gallop.

These sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the Hull Kingston Rovers Neil Hudgell, who extended his condolences to Beetson's family, saying that they had "became really good friends" when the Australian briefly played for the UK team.

"Although he only played with us for a short time, he left a legacy that still endures today," said Hudgell.

In recognition of his contribution to the sporting culture of Australia, Queensland premier Anna Bligh made an offer of a public memorial ceremony and commemorative bronze image to Beetson's family - one that they have accepted.

Bligh described the league legend as a "great man" and said that he was a pioneer for indigenous Australian athletes, being the first to captain a national sporting team.

She said: "This bronze likeness of Artie Beetson will be positioned at the northern plaza and provide future generations of sports fans with a meeting place to pay tribute to his amazing career both on and off the field.

"There are many people that want to say an appropriate goodbye to this great man, and this will be their opportunity to do just that."

The bronze sculpture will be jointly funded by the Queensland government, the Nine Network and the Former Origin Greats organisation - it is not drawn from any part of the rugby legend's estate planning, although his family will be consulted in the selection of an appropriate image.

It is reported that Beetson's relatives will be holding a private ceremony sometime in the next week.

Many people may use of their wills to provide their loved ones with helpful instructions for this occasion - as well as providing for dependants to avoid the need for an estate dispute.