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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

'Mal' Meninga, Rugby League, 1991 (printed 2017)

Heide Smith

gelatin silver photograph, hand-coloured on paper (sheet: 61.0 cm x 50.0 cm, image: 30.9 cm x 31.0 cm)
Malcolm (Mal) Meninga AM (b. 1960) is one of Australia’s most lauded rugby league players. A descendant of Melanesian people coerced into labouring in Queensland in the late 1800s, Meninga made his professional rugby league debut in Brisbane at eighteen. First selected for Queensland at nineteen, he played in the Maroons squad that won the inaugural State of Origin fixture against New South Wales in 1980, scoring seven goals from seven attempts. He went on to play in 32 State of Origin contests, amassing 161 points. He was a member of the ‘Invincibles’ side which won all 22 tour matches, including five tests, in its 1982 tour of Great Britain and France. In all, he represented Australia on 86 occasions, including in 46 tests, 23 of these as captain. Meanwhile, he worked as a police officer and played five seasons in the Queensland first grade competition before joining the Canberra Raiders in 1986. After a series of injuries, he captained the Raiders to premiership victories in 1989 (the club’s first) and 1990, finishing the 1990 season as the league’s leading point scorer. He last appeared for the Raiders in their victorious 1994 grand final, and went on to become the team’s coach in 1997. Appointed coach of the Queensland State of Origin side in late 2005, he led them to an unprecedented eight consecutive series wins (2006–2013) before departing to coach the Kangaroos in 2015. To date, Meninga is the only player to have been selected for four consecutive Kangaroos tours (1982, 1986, 1990, and 1992). He was the Dally M Player of the Year in 1989, 1990 and 1992. Meninga’s many other honours include inductions into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame (1994); the Australian Rugby League Hall of Fame (2003); and inclusion in both the Australian and Queensland Teams of the Century. As of 2018, he is one of only thirteen players to have been named as an Immortal, the honour bestowed on Australian Rugby League’s greatest ever players.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2017

Accession number: 2017.106

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Heide Smith (age 54 in 1991)

Mal Meninga AM (age 31 in 1991)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.