The planned statue of rugby league legends which will be unveiled at Wembley next year has taken another important step towards completion.
The players who will feature in the statue, along with their relatives, were given their first views of how the statue is progressing this week.
Billy Boston MBE, Martin Offiah MBE and Alex Murphy OBE were joined by Bev Risman, the son of Gus Risman, and Doreen Ashton, wife of the late Eric Ashton, to meet sculptor Stephen Winterburn from Yorkshire Fine Arts at his studio in East Yorkshire.
They were there to see scale versions of the figures which will make up the finished statue.
Planning permission for the piece was secured from Brent Council by Wembley Stadium last week. The site of the statue is on the stadium concourse at the top of Wembley Way.
If the work is completed to schedule, the the finished statue should be unveiled in the build-up to the 2015 Challenge Cup final.
The statue is being produced in association with the sport’s charity, Rugby League Cares. On Wednesday the former players and their families were able to see the first full figure in the final piece, as well as 13-inch and 23-ich maquettes.
“It was fantastic to see how the sculptor has turned the images he showed us last year into what is going to be a stunning statue,” said Billy Boston.
“It was a real honour to be selected to be involved in the statue and having seen what it’s going to look like I’m humbled. I am stunned by the size and I think it really captures all that is great about Rugby League.”
Alex Murphy was also delighted to see how the statue was shaping up.
“I truly think this is one of the biggest things in the history of the sport and certainly in my long career,” he said.
“It is an honour to be recognised and chosen to represent the many great players and fans who have enjoyed and graced Wembley over the years.”
Stephen Winterburn, the sculptor who won the commission to create the statue, wants to ensure that the finished work truly represents the spirit of the Greatest Game.
“We have to get this exactly right to ensure that it is the very best sporting statue anywhere,” he said.
“My intention is also to produce a piece of public art that captures the spirit of Rugby League and all the excellent qualities of the game.”
The five figures were selected by a public vote and a process involving a number of specially-convened selection panels comprising fans, Rugby League journalists, coaches, players, national newspaper editors and MPs.