Malcolm Norman “Mal” Meninga is an Australian professional rugby league football coach and former player. As a player, his career lasted 16 years and he played in over 460 first grade games for state, club and country. He is a legendary goal-kicking centre and one of the finest footballers the 20th century got to witness. He is the only player to have been selected for four Kangaroo Tours, two of which he also captained. More success and recognition followed when he became a part of the undefeated teams that toured in 1982 and 1986, known as "The Invincibles" and "The Unbeatables" respectively. He played a total of 46 games representing Australia and scored 278 points, with 21 tries and 99 goals. Another remarkable fact about him is that he has captained all the sides he has played for, and Australia lost only six out of the 46 tests in which he played. After retiring from his playing career he coached the Queensland State of Origins team, and the team won eight series in a row. He has received several honors and accolades in recognition of his invaluable contribution to sports in Australia
Childhood & Early Life
Mal Meninga was born July 8, 1960 in Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia. His father, Norman Meninga played in the rugby league.
He went to Maroochydore State High School but dropped out at the age of 15 to enter the West End police academy. Here, coach Wayne Bennett realised Mal's tremendous sporting potential and guided him.
As a youngster, he faced a lot of problems gelling with his team mates as he was dark skinned and very tall. Due to his height, he had to play Rugby in a higher age group.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Mal Meninga made his debut for the Souths Logan Magpies in the Brisbane Rugby League premiership in 1978. In 1979, he represented Brisbane in the Amco Cup and played as a centre for Queensland.
On his twentieth birthday he helped Queensland win their first State of Origin match against New South Wales. Meninga scored seven goals from seven attempts.
He won the BRL premiership in 1981 with the Souths who defeated Redcliffe Dolphins 13-9.
His debut for Australia came in a test against New Zealand, in Sydney, in 1982. But after 28 minutes of play, his elbow was dislocated by a blindside tackle from Kiwi winger Dane O'Hara.
On the 1982 European tour, the Australian national team went undefeated for the first time and earned the nickname 'The Invincibles'. Meninga was the team's top scorer with a score of 166 from 10 tries.
He signed a contract with St Helens for £30,000 before the 1984-85 Rugby Football League season. St Helens won the 1984 Lancashire Cup final against Wigan with Meninga scoring two tries. Due to succession of injuries, he could not play in the next season.
In 1987 he joined the Canberra Raiders and found himself among friends such as former-teammate Gary Belcher, former-coach Wayne Bennett and Australian national coach Don Furner. He missed most of the season pertaining to an injury.
Before the start of 1988 NSWRL season, he broke his arm for the second time and missed up to Round 15, and after another five games he broke it again. This injury meant he sat out of the entire season and the 1988 World Cup Finals in Auckland.
He was named the national captain in 1990. After unexpectedly losing the first Ashes test against Great Britain, the Australian team went on to win the next two tests to retain the Ashes, which they had held onto since 1974. Victory in the second match was made possible by Meninga who scored one of the most famous tries in test history..
Continue Reading Below
He captained the 1992 World Cup final winning Australian side against Great Britain at the Wembley Stadium in London.
The Canberra Raiders looked set to win the 1993 premiership, but an unlucky incident involving Halfback Ricky Stuart breaking his right ankle stemmed their flow and they got knocked out in the finals.
He played his last game for the Canberra Raiders in the Grand Final of the 1994 NSWRL season, in which his team defeated Canterbury-Bankstown for their third premiership title. As a perfect end to his perfect career, he scored the last try of the match.
Mal Meninga captained Australia for the last time on December 4, 1994 at the Stade de la Mediterranee against a weak French team and won 74-0. He scored the last try of the game, and of his career.
Canberra Raiders appointed him as their head coach for the 1997 Super League season in Australia. He was replaced by Matthew Elliot in 2001.
He became the coach of Queensland in 2005 and the team won the State of Origin series from 2006 to 2013. He also coached the victorious Prime Minister's XIII side.
Awards & Achievements
Mal Meninga became the first and the only player to play in four Kangaroo Tours (1982. 1986, 1990 and 1994) and also captained in two of them (1990 and 1994).
In 1990, he was named the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1994.
He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994.
In 2000, he received the Australian Sports Medal and the Centenary Medal for his services and contributions to Rugby at the highest standard in 2001.In 2008, he figured in the list of Australia’s 100 Greatest Players.
After he became the coach for Queensland, his team won the State of Origin series eight times in a row.
Personal Life & Legacy
Mal Meninga married Debbie when he was 19, and together they have two children. But the marriage ended in a divorce. He is married for the second time to Amanda, and has two sons with her.