I know State Of Origin is the crown jewel of Rugby League and I am an avid New South Welshman myself, but I do feel that it is killing the international game of Rugby League. Say for example you give Anthony Milford a choice to play for Samoa or QLD and Australia, there are so many more examples that I could use but this is most recent. 9/10 times in this day and age the player will pick QLD and Australia.
The reason why is simple.
A player only has so many years of professional football that they can play, so why not make as much money as you can whilst you can. With the money on offer from State Of Origin being $30,000 a game and if your playing all three games that’s an extra $90,000 a year on offer. Then playing for Australia for whatever those match payments may be on top of Origin payments makes is going to make it pretty enticing.
Now I’m not sure how much Samoa could afford to pay its players, but I dare say it wouldn’t be as much as what is on offer from Origin.
Not just that, State Of Origin is the biggest event on the Rugby League calendar so why would you not want to play in the biggest, toughest arena in Rugby League!
Now lets say we open up State Of Origin to the world. I know we already have a World Cup but compared to other world cups like soccer and rugby union, we have a fair way to go. That’s with no disrespect to Rugby League’s last World Cup because it was a HUGE success and leap forward for the game.
Now State Of Origin has the worlds best players playing against each other every year, even though its only 3 games, they get so much experience and confidence from playing State Of Origin improving their personal game by tenfold. Then they get to play for Australia, which 9/10 times Australia will win against any team in the world and always be favourites.
The new structure could still follow the guide lines of the old, like where you are born makes you eligible for where you play, so in a sense you would still have that territorial passion, which is what State Of Origin is about.
Countries like New Zealand could be separated so QLD has the North Island and NSW has the South Island, same would go for PNG, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, all the Pacific Islands but England who would have to be separated from east to west because Rugby League is predominantly played in the north of England, France could still be split in two, north and south. Who would draw up these lines of eligibility you say? Rugby League has the RLIF who would be neutral in there decision making to do there research and draw up the new boarders. Having this done would open up he doors for players like Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Burgess, Quade Cooper to hop over from another code, who have already voiced there desire to play State Of Origin.
I know it would be scrutinized to change the crown jewel of Rugby League but if the NRL wants to have teams from NZ and the talk of eventually PNG and I heard of a suggestion of a Pacific Islands team that could be based out of Sydney and play home games in Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. This concept would bring in and open up a whole new talent pool of players, but they need something to keep them in the same skill level, and that would be to play State of Origin.
You can keep the name ‘State of Origin’ because the RLIF would draw up the new lines for the newly added countries and the old boarders of QLD and NSW would remain the same. Change the rules of eligibility to what the fans want, change it to where you where born and nothing else. So that’s all bases covered, no one arguing over who plays for what team, because eligibility states that you where born on what ever side of the state line that might be.
To be traditional to State Of Origin, you would still have the same Maroon and light Blue colours. Game one could be played in a different location around the world each year, say NZ, England and eventually PNG, or France, all these countries would have a great turn out if not a sell out for Game 1. Game 2 and 3 would always be played out in NSW or QLD regardless because it was born here.
Now something that people will have a hard time to come to grips with is the change of name of the teams. They couldn’t be called QLD or NSW anymore because now players of the world would now be playing. The only names I could come up with off the top of my head is:
NORTH (old QLD)
SOUTH (old NSW)
BLUES (old NSW)
I’m sure if we had a fan suggestion page on Facebook to submit new names, then a board would sit down and review the suggestions and pick one or they pick a bunch of names and the people could somehow vote for them worldwide either by phone or Internet.
Just Imagine the likes of Sonny bill Williams, Sam Burgess, Jesse Bromwich and Fui Fui Moi Moi ripping apart teams forward packs. There are the Sam Tomkins, Shaun Johnson’s and Gareth Widdop’s floating accords field and setting up try’s. The Steve Mati, Semi Radragdra, Ryan Hall, Anthony Millford, Konrad Hurrell, Jack Reeds, these players with the Origin build and aggression. The list goes on with players that would make State of Origin an even bigger spectacle.
The NRL would benefit from exposure to the world market by attracting sponsors, bigger broadcasting deal when it is renewed, fans which would buy merchandise.
Eventually we have an improved spectacle of State Of Origin, players would have only one option and that is to play for the side in which is dictated by the new state lines, you now have an improved world game because players can play for their country or birth, citizenship or heritage but once the decision is made to play for that country it cannot ever be changed.