ARLC switch order to give Blues advantage

BRAD WALTER
Last updated 08:24 20/11/2012
Johnathan Thurston
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ORIGIN HERO: Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston.

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ANZ Stadium is set to host two State of Origin matches next season after a decision to reverse the order and switch a game from Brisbane to Sydney.

The scheduling of Origin fixtures is one of the main items on the agenda at Tuesday's ARL Commission meeting but Fairfax Media has been told that NSW will be awarded two home matches next season and Queensland two the following year.

The move follows a concerted campaign by the Blues to switch the order of matches after the opening game of this year's series was shifted from Sydney to Melbourne.

If the change had not occurred, NSW would have had to wait until 2014 to play two home games - four years after they last enjoyed such an advantage.

The news will be welcomed by new Blues coach Laurie Daley and his players, who are attempting to prevent Queensland from winning an eighth consecutive series.

After the success of last year's match in Melbourne and record television ratings for the other two Origins and the NRL grand final, the Victorian Events Corporation offered $12.5 million to secure one game per series for the next five years.

However, the NSW and Queensland governments have also tabled bids after it was decided to guarantee Sydney and Brisbane one match each per series and put the third out for tender.

The other main item on the agenda at Tuesday's monthly meeting of the eight commissioners is whether to ban the contentious shoulder charge.

The ARLC ordered a crackdown by the match review committee and judiciary panel on shoulder charges that connected with an opposing players head late last season and opinion is divided over whether they should outlaw the tactic altogether.

Origin eligibility is also on the agenda but no decision is expected to be made until the next meeting on December 18.

However, Fairfax Media understands that players will be deemed to be ineligible to play for either NSW or Queensland if they had not resided continuously in that state since the age of 13.

Players will still be eligible for Australia if they comply with international eligibility rules but the move is expected to discourage players such as James Tamou and Sam Kasiano choosing the country over their native New Zealand for the chance to play Origin.

Canberra's Josh Papalii may still be eligible for the Maroons as he moved to Australia when he was six years old.

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Fairfax Media has also been told that there will be no announcement on Tuesday of a new chief executive to run the game or the appointment of the Australian coach for next year's World Cup.

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens is almost certain to retain the role but there has been speculation that he may be offered the job full-time given the extra commitments in a World Cup year. However, there are also concerns that the job description would only be expanded because Sheens is available after being sacked as Wests Tigers coach.

Sheens has been offered another role by the Tigers but it is widely assumed that he will not accept and wants a full pay out of the remaining two years of his contract, worth $450,000 per season

- Sydney Morning Herald

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