I think most people would agree that the SOO concept needs a bit of a revamp. Both to keep interest from a growing ‘non-Australian’ contingent of players and supporters (predominantly New Zealanders and Pacific Islanders) and to minimise the impact on NRL clubs, in a tight competition. Once again after only 1 origin game, we’ve seen teams impacted by the loss of their key players. Jarryd Hayne is out for Parramatta, after playing 2 days after Origin 1 and tearing his hammy. Gallen was out for Cronulla after righteously raining down blows on the massive head of Nate Myles and Farah is out for the Tigers (and that’s only the ones I can think of, off the top of my head). Currently we have 3 origin games and 1 test weekend (stand-alone). Each team gets 2 byes + the stand-alone weekend. This means that there are 3 weeks off for each team. My thoughts on how you could set up stand-alone weekends for Origin are:
* Scrap the Anzac test weekend, which includes the city/origin fixtures. Complete waste of time and adds nothing to the game.
* Play the origin series on a monthly basis starting in April (replacing the Anzac test with the first origin game)
* Play the game on a Sunday night, starting at 7:30pm (not the ridiculous 8:15pm on a Wednesday night.
* Make all 3 origins’ stand-alone fixtures and fill the rest of the weekend with:
o Friday night: Samoa/Tonga test match series. You could also work with the international commission and schedule a NZ/England test match for one of the weekends.
o Saturday night: under 20 SOO & NSW Residents vs Qld Residents (the best players out of NSW & Qld cups with some eligibility requirements). These would also be a 3 games series and you could have a NSW/Qld championship similar to the old club championships.
o Sunday: You could play the U16 & U18 NSW & QLD grand finals and then the NSW vs Qld games as warm up games to at least 2 of the origin fixtures.
o As a warm up to the 3rd, you could play an under 18 test match against NZ.
* Finish the origin series in June, giving teams two solid months to recover from origin before the finals series.
* No Monday night football the weekend before an origin series and players get a full 6 days in camp before the game.
(Could possibly make the camp before Origin 1, a 10 day camp, but they play for their teams on the weekend before).
In addition, you could also relax the origin rules a little and allow both teams 2 ‘imports’ from the current NRL competition, without jeopardising their status with their respective countries. E.g. Sam Burgess and Sonny Bill Williams could choose to play for NSW as their 2 imports. Once you have represented either state though you can’t swap. (Of course, QLD are already way over their import cap, so would need to have a grandfather clause) This concept, while not perfect, would cater to the needs of the NRL to maximise revenue. It would minimise the impact to NRL clubs of having to play games without their drawcards. And it would cater to the needs of fans to have footy on the weekend, to fill up their sad, uneventful lives (ok, that last bit is mainly just me, but I’m sure that you’d get fans watching the ‘all-stars’ weekend concept).
Food for thought at least.
You can follow Peter Prowse aka prowsey on Twitter at @themadrabbit
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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