11 jersey will be “retired” by Queensland at Suncorp Stadium on May 28 to honour Immortal Arthur Beetson in the 100th State of Origin game.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith said it made sense to mark game 100 by recognising the late Beetson, considered the “Godfather of Origin”.
Beetson died in December 2011 and a bronze statue of him was unveiled outside Suncorp Stadium in July 2012.
Smith believed it was fitting the man who led Queensland out in Origin’s first game in 1980 was honoured again in the 100th.
“Arthur is the father of Origin and deserves to be recognised for his contribution to the concept,” he said.
“When children ask why there is no No.11 for Queensland this year, their mums and dads will explain that the jersey belongs to Arthur Beetson.”
Beetson set the tone for Origin’s “mate against mate” motto when he scuffled with Parramatta teammate Mick Cronin in game one, inspiring the Maroons to a 20-10 victory at Lang Park.
Current Queensland coach Mal Meninga said he hoped to begin their quest for nine straight series wins by providing a fitting tribute to Beetson.
Meninga played 32 games for Queensland but rated running out alongside Beetson in the opener as his career highlight.
“I can’t remember too much about the game, to be honest,” Meninga said.
“But I just wanted to play well for Arthur.”
Veteran centre Justin Hodges hoped to battle back from an achilles complaint in time to run out for the special match.
“It’s a great honour for the great man. Hopefully, he is looking down smiling on us,” he said.
“I think having this for Artie is going to inspire us even more.
“We never wanted to let him down and hopefully we don’t in game one.”