Statue with Wigan legends to be unveiled in 2015

Bev Risman (Gus Risman's son), Martin Offiah, Victoria Smith (Eric Ashton's granddaughter), Billy Boston and Alex Murphy outside Wembley
Bev Risman (Gus Risman's son), Martin Offiah, Victoria Smith (Eric Ashton's granddaughter), Billy Boston and Alex Murphy outside Wembley

A STATUE consisting of Wigan rugby legends and a former coach will be unveiled at Wembley next year.

The RFL has today (Friday) confirmed that the monument, featuring Billy Boston, Martin Offiah, Eric Ashton, Alex Murphy and Salford great Gus Risman has now been granted planning permission from Brent Council and is set to be unveiled ahead of the 2015 Challenge Cup final.

The players and relatives of the figures represented in the statue were given their first sight of the impressive artwork this week.

Boston, Offiah, and Alex Murphy were joined by Bev Risman, the son of Gus, and Doreen Ashton, wife of the late Eric, to meet sculptor Stephen Winterburn from Yorkshire Fine Arts at his studio in to view scale versions of the iconic statue.

The former players and their relatives have already played a big part in the creation of the statue, which is being produced in association with the sport’s charity, Rugby League Cares, and on Wednesday they were able to see the first full figure in the final piece, as well as 13-inch and 23-ich maquettes.

Boston said: “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.

“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.”

Murphy added: “I truly think this is one of the biggest things in the history of the sport and certainly in my long career.

“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.”

The sculptor who won the commission to create the statue, Mr Winterburn, said: “We have to get this exactly right to ensure that it is the very best sporting statue anywhere.

“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.