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Origin I expected to sell out following criticism

LAINE CLARK
Last updated 23:23 20/05/2014
Wally Lewis
Getty
LEAGUE GREAT: Wally Lewis.

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Red faces look set to be averted after a new, cheaper ticket category boosted sales and confidence that next week's historic opening State of Origin game will sell out.

Wally Lewis had joined fellow Queensland legend Mal Meninga in slamming Origin ticket prices for Suncorp Stadium which dramatically rose in 2014, with some categories almost doubling.

It raised the "embarrassing" prospect of empty seats at the May 28 opener - the 100th Origin game that will also honour the late, great Arthur Beetson.

However, QRL managing director Robert Moore was confident of a full house next week after 1400 of the remaining 7500 general seating tickets were sold on Tuesday after the introduction of a cheaper category.

White category tickets at A$125 appear to have proved the catalyst for the sales boost, much to the relief of Moore who met with NRL commercial head Paul Kind in Brisbane on Tuesday to address the issue.

Previously tickets were only available in the gold (A$250) and silver - which were initially touted at A$220 but are now A$180 - categories.

The A$80 bronze category tickets sold out.

"There were encouraging signs from the start of the day with more than 500 tickets sold by lunch time," Kind said.

Queensland captain Cameron Smith did his best to push the importance of the match - and sales - earlier on Tuesday.

"You'd want to say in 20 years' time I was there for the 100th game, I saw that champion (Queensland) team play'," he said.

"That's what the game is about, passing on to your grandkids, saying 'I saw Greg Inglis and Billy Slater play' - those blokes are greats of the game.

"I would like to think that everyone could get out there and we have a sold-out Suncorp Stadium."

Brisbane Origin games usually sell out in hours but sluggish sales forced the QRL to ask the NRL to help market the series opener.

Earlier, Rugby league Immortal and ex-Maroons skipper Lewis said the initial ticket prices had put Origin matches beyond the reach of many fans.

"It's really quite an embarrassing moment for the Queensland Rugby League (QRL) because, if you try and put a finger on the last time a State of Origin game was unable to be sold, you're going back 25 years, minimum," he told ABC Radio.

Meninga had said he hoped the QRL would learn from their mistake.

"We learn our lessons and hopefully we are strong enough to say we were wrong and make it a bit more accessible to our audience for game one and three (in Brisbane)," he said.

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