NRL 'suffers' from State of Origin
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After two stunning State of Origin games from both New South Wales and Queensland, we must now look at the logistics and timing of the series.
From Round 11 right through to Round 18, the NRL suffers from State of Origin.
We have all sorts of problems - players not being able to front up with their clubs, club administrators getting fed up with their players being tangled up in Origin, and we have the whole issue of when Origin should actually be played.
Should they change it?
Player welfare is also a growing concern in the modern game, even with the shoulder-charge gone and the banning of punches.
With regards to the first point of players not being able to front up for their club, I don't mean that they aren't playing, but leading up to Origin are they giving their all for their club? There's the classic example of Greg Inglis against the Warriors.
Granted he did only play 38 minutes of the game, but his running meters were 65 and he made only seven runs in total. Was he resting for Origin? Did he put enough effort into the game for Souths?
In Origin II we saw Anthony Watmough being put on report after a dangerous throw on Queensland's Nate Myles. Watmough's club coach at Manly, Geoff Toovey, was furious about how none of the NSW management were there to support Watmough following their win in State of Origin.
Toovey said: "They [NSW management] couldn't even tear themselves away from the pub for five minutes to come and support one of their players. Very disappointing.
"When it comes to injuries and suspensions, like us with Anthony Watmough, the club and the club's fans are the ones that suffer - not the rep games or NSW."
In my mind Toovey's comments hit the nail on the head, but again this whole Origin system is causing headaches for management and coaches of NRL clubs.
Recently Knights coach Wayne Bennett spoke out about his feelings towards the Origin period and proposed a new schedule which I think may solve the problem. He suggested:
June 1: QLD and NSW pick 22 man squads.
June 5-7: Play four NRL games, include Origin players who are not in starting 17.
June 10: Play Origin I.
June 12-14: Four more NRL games, include Origin players who are not in starting 17 for Origin II.
June 17: Play Origin II.
June 19-21 Play four club games, include Origin players not in starting 17.
June 24: Play Origin III.
From there players are stood down for minimum of nine days.
June 26-28: Four NRL games, excluding the 17 who played Origin III.
July 3-5: Return of Origin players, and back to eight games.
Overall this will make the Origin period only four weeks, and Origin players are not forced to step up for clubs and will always get a seven-day break.
Obviously we can't banish Origin. It is one of the big parts of our game, even for us Kiwis.
But the NRL and ARL can make adjustments which will better suit players, clubs and most importantly league's most faithful: the fans.
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