Lewis hits out at government over Origin hosting

IAN MCCULLOUGH AND WAYNE HEMING
Last updated 16:47 20/11/2012

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Wally Lewis has accused the Queensland government of not doing enough to keep two games in Brisbane for next year's State of Origin series.

The ARL Commission announced a five-year schedule for the three-match Origin series on Tuesday with Queensland to host two home matches in 2014 and 2017 and NSW to have two in 2013 and 2016.

A neutral venue will be used for one game in 2015, with discussions taking place between the ARLC and Victorian Major Events Company about Melbourne hosting the match.

Brisbane had been slated to host two matches in 2013, but the ARLC, which took control of the game in April, changed that in its new five-year schedule, with the NSW government outbidding Queensland to secure game one and game three at ANZ Stadium.

Lewis, who played 31 Origins and won a record eight man-of-the-match awards, questioned how hard the Queensland Government had fought to hang onto its two games in 2013.

"Look, anybody that doesn't fight hard hard to maintain a bit of loyalty and support for Queensland, I don't believe they're real Queenslanders," Lewis told the ABC.

"People that don't believe these games aren't the number one earner for Queensland need to go back to primary school."

Queensland Sports Minister Steve Dickson said the Government had to watch its spending.

"If it's about cheque books at the end of the day, maybe New South Wales may have a bigger chequebook than us," he said.

"We just can't afford to go blowing big bundles of money at this point in time, on Origin or anything else"

New NSW coach Laurie Daley welcomed the decision as he attempts to end a run of seven successive Origin series defeats for the Blues.

However, he urged the NSW public to make sure they take advantage of the decision and fill the 83,000-capacity ANZ Stadium, after only 68,000 attended game one in 2010 and just over 61,000 were at game three.

"It will be good for the city and good for the state," Daley said.

"But we want to sell the stadium out as it's never been sold out for game one before. Any advantage you can get in Origin you have to take.

"I know the boys will be motivated to play well and stop this wonderful Queensland side."

Daley said the progress the team made under Stuart, with only a late field goal from Cooper Cronk sealing a one-point win for Mal Meninga's side in this year's series decider, should be something the state embraces.

"Since State of Origin's inception, Queensland have hosted nine more games and we're finally getting some back," he said.

"Game one is so important as you need to get off to a good start.

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"People have had the opportunity to watch this team grow and we now have the chance to make it an intimidating atmosphere for Queenslanders to play in.

"The NSW government has done terrific in convincing the ARLC to have two games in Sydney, but that does not guarantee we will win.

"We have to make sure we prepare well."

- AAP

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