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The Solution To The Split-Round State Of Origin Dilemma

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The Solution To The Split-Round State Of Origin Dilemma

The State of Origin series kicks of tomorrow night, and I am pumped!

State vs State. Mate vs Mate. Rugby league in its finest and most brutal form. It is one of the best times of the year, one of the greatest sporting events on the Australian calendar, and all NRL fans are buzzing.

But before we all got excited for this week, we had to go through the sadness and despair from last week that comes with the lead up to Origin – the split round.

The weekend before an Origin game, half the teams are given the weekend off, with many of their best away in camp and getting ready for the big game. But the other half of the teams still play, and most are missing some representatives.

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Credit: Speed Media / Alamy
Credit: Speed Media / Alamy

Last round we had just four games take place. It’s great to see some of the remaining players stand up while the main guys are away, as well as watch some newbies make their debuts to fill in the gaps. And of course, we still have those superstars who aren’t eligible for Origin out on the field. 

But the lack of games and big names, along with the quality of the remaining matches tend to leave much to be desired. 

And then the Origin players only have a day or so to recover and then back it up for their club in the next round. Some are absolutely buggered, and others get rested, so they don’t play at all, so once again the level of the matches comes into question.

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Fans hate it. Everyone whines about it. But no one quite knows how to fix it.

Many suggestions have been thrown around, but none can be agreed upon. The way I see it, we only have two other viable ideas.

The first one is having the series played at the end of the season. Holding it after the grand final, when all teams have finished playing, and that way no one is affected by missing players.

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Thanks to Covid turning the whole 2020 season on its head, we were able to give this one a test drive. The State of Origin series wasn’t played in its usual timeslot in the middle of the season but was held over three consecutive Wednesdays in November.

But many didn’t like how long the season ended up going for (who in their right mind would complain about more footy?) and some of the clubs felt that it didn’t allow their players who were involved in Origin enough rest before pre-season started. That one I can understand. 

And of course, with the World Cup taking place at the end of this year it would be hard to make Origin work as well.

Now, the other option is my personal favourite, but I know it’s going to make a lot of heads explode.

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Many people can’t stand the thought of Origin not being played on a Wednesday night, and I understand the money involved as the ratings for a Wednesday night are just massive, but I love when Origin is played on the weekend. 

To me, this is the best option, and we will get to see it play out in a few weeks’ time for game two. The second match will be held in Perth on Sunday 26th June, and because of that, there will be no normal NRL games that weekend. All teams get the weekend off.

I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘That sounds horrible’. Here, just breathe into this paper bag for a minute and let me explain how it will look.

Friday night we have the first-ever standalone women’s State of Origin game to be played in Canberra. Saturday, we have an international double-header coming to us live from across the ditch with the New Zealand and Tongan women’s test match, followed by the men. Then on Sunday, we have the Men’s second Origin game over in Perth.

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There are no normal NRL games, but we have four sensational representative games to watch, no one is disadvantaged by missing anyone, and everyone gets a bit more time to rest from Origin before the next round. 

But for this to work, we need the women’s origin to be a three-game series – like the guys - and for a few more countries to jump on board and play a test match during this time.

We want to grow the women’s and the global side of the sport, so I can’t see anyone not supporting that.

Three weekends full of top-level State of Origin matches and international battles, no half-arsed club games for anyone to whinge about, and the players get plenty of recovery time.

Best of all, none of us has to wake up on a Thursday morning struggling from lack of sleep and trying to function like a normal person.

Sounds perfect to me.

Featured Image Credit: Speed Media / Alamy.

Topics: NRL, Rugby League, Australia

Jayden Collins
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