League legend Mal Meninga chats league, kids and... Frozen!

Published 10:27am 3 April 2018

League legend Mal Meninga chats league, kids and... Frozen!
Words by Kylie Knight

Q. What’s your earliest memory of playing rugby league?

A. Monto. Playing school level I guess and obviously watching dad train in Monto at the showgrounds there. That’s my earliest memory and watching him play rugby league around that lower south Burnett area. I would have been four.

Q. What age did you start playing?

A. At school, first year, five or six years of age.

Q. Is it a good game for kids to play?

A. I certainly got a lot of enjoyment out of it. It’s modified rules these days so when you talk about health and safety, different weight divisions, that sort of stuff, they’re very well catered for. When I grew up, it was weight age group. I was in under-6s and would have been playing against eight and nine-year-olds based on weight. But it didn’t hurt me. I remember crying a few times but you get back up and get back into it again.

Q. Is it unfair to look at the stars of the game as role models or is it a privilege?

A. It’s a privilege and an expectation in the modern era but that doesn’t mean to say I agree with it. I think young people have got to find their way and understand who they are before they can actually understand how to be a role model or to be an ambassador for something. That’s my own personal view. But I’m a firm believer that when you get to representative level, so Queensland and Australian level, the expectation is that it’s part of who you are - you’re a role model and ambassador for the game and a hero for kids who do look up to them.

Q. What’s your biggest career achievement?

A. Fulfilling my promise. Dad and Mum were really ardent supporters. I found Wayne Bennett at a really early age, so when I was in the police force I remember a pretty disciplined life there. But I think fulfilling my promise. When I look back there’s not something I wanted to achieve that I didn’t.

Q. What’s your greatest personal achievement?

A. Kids… I’ve got a few of them (seven)… We’re the only Meningas in the world. We’re South Sea Island descent. I went back and did the Who Do You Think You Are (program) last year and there’s no survivors over there so we (my brothers and I) are the only males. There’s heaps of ladies, female Meningas who have married on so from a Meninga name point of view we’re the only ones in the world so we’ve been producing kids and we’ve got a few boys to keep the name going. It’s a great pastime.

Q. How do you unwind?

A. I spend a lot of time with my children. I like reading, I like puzzles, I like crossword puzzles and sudoku. I spend a bit of time with the kids, watching kids’ shows so I’m well up on Moana at the moment and Frozen. We dance to it and sing to it if I have to, Let it go...Let it go…

Q. What’s your favourite movie?

A. It’s funny I’m one of those moviegoers who watches everything but can’t remember anything. I’ve been watching a fair bit of Bruce Willis lately, the Die Hard movies. I watched them years ago and I watched them again (recently) and I couldn’t remember what happened, so it was all new to me. I don’t mind a soppy story too. I don’t mind a cry.

Q. What’s your favourite meal?

A. My wife does terrific roasts...I love a lamb roast with vegies. I’m a vegie fan so you put a meat with a vegie, I’m happy.

Q. Favourite all-time holiday destination?

A. I grew up a bit on the Sunny Coast so I like it up there. Over Christmas and New Year we stayed at home, this was off the back of the World Cup when I was away for nearly seven weeks. I really enjoyed that because you don’t have to worry about what you’re doing and the kids have their own beds and own toys, TV, we’ve got our pool, food’s in the fridge so you can eat at any time. I quite enjoy being at home. That’s probably my favourite spot.

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