The players are right: bring back AFL State of Origin
144 Have your say
News surfaced yesterday that the AFL Players Association are leading a push to return State of Origin footy, possibly as soon as next year.
Proposals were discussed at an AFLPA meeting on Wednesday night.
President Luke Ball told the Herald Sun: “A straw poll of our players suggested there was strong interest in reviving some form of State of Origin or a ‘best of’ scenario.”
It’s not the first time players have voiced their approval of the concept, but it was a sign they are now getting serious about it.
And it came on the back of news last year that a discussion between club CEOs and the league was supportive of taking a closer look at Origin.
First, though, let’s deal with the inevitable. The naysayers.
At the time of writing yesterday, 90.33% of respondents to a Superfooty poll said the AFL should bring back State of Origin. But there’s a vocal minority that are convinced Origin has no place in the modern game.
Their argument centres around the reasons that brought about Origin’s demise being some kind of sign it should stay buried. But just how relevant are those reasons today?
Let’s take a look.
Reason #1: When the league introduced the Eagles and Crows, it took the passion out of Origin
This is true. With the Eagles and Crows, the people of Western Australia and South Australia could all of the sudden see their boys week in, week out. That obviously had an impact on Origin’s standing.
But what about today? Those two markets are now well and truly two-team towns; support is divided, not united.
In addition, expansion means “their boys” are going to be shipped off interstate more often.
Reason #2: Players grew tired of representing their state
Again, this is something that did happen. But there was a reason for it: overkill.
State of Origin being held annually, and sometimes with states playing more than one game in a year, was just asking for trouble. But there’s nothing to say it has to be that way now.
The players do want to represent their state, don’t forget that, but to ask them to do it again and again is something that can be avoided.
Reason #3: Clubs don’t want their prized assets playing Origin
At that meeting last year, it was the club CEOs that told the AFL to look into the idea further. Clubs are obviously a hurdle, but maybe not as much of a big one as has been made out.
Once more, by not going down the annual path their concerns have to be eased. The real clincher, though, could be avoiding mid-season and holding it pre-season instead. This is an idea favoured by the players.
If you must go down the mid-season path – MCG availability is a reason it may go that way – follow the idea of Graham Cornes and make players who pull out unavailable for their next club game.
Reason #4: We’re a club game, we don’t need a representative form of the game
This insular type of thinking needs to stop.
Look at how Australia rallies behind the Socceroos in a World Cup year. Look at the passion on display when New South Wales and Queensland meet in rugby league’s Origin. Look at the enormous public interest in our cricketers over summer.
Clearly, we are conceding ground to other codes by not having a true form of representative footy.
Reason #5: You cannot have an All-Stars side, you cannot hold it for longer than a week, you cannot exclude any states, etc.
There’s plenty of cannots when it comes to State of Origin. So I came up with a can.
A system of promotion and relegation, which I unveiled in column on The Roar last August, answers every single one of the typical “you cannot” calls.
Have a look at it. Consider the rebuttals to the familiar complaints.
Then tell me we can’t bring back State of Origin.
State of Origin proposal:
Some of the feedback it has received:
Daily Telegraph AFL writer Neil Cordy (@neilcordy):
“You’ve done some fine work. Love seeing stars playing together that otherwise wouldn’t.”
AFL.com.au writer Ashley Browne (@afl_hashbrowne):
“not bad, only marginally less complicated than the World Cup cricket super sixes”
Daniel Clough (@cluffdog):
“that’s the most sense I’ve seen since this topic was raised. Bit worried about crowd sizes for the lower seeds but love it”
“Great concept – but include the ACT to make it 4 games over an Origin weekend – it would be brilliant. Play one game on the Friday night, one Saturday arvo and evening and one Sunday.”
“I have to admit, this is the best AFL SOO concept I have ever come across – it has potential. It has potential because the reality is that you’re only going to get away with one weekend per annum, no more, and it’s a genius way to accommodate 8 teams.”
“Great idea Michael, this is the only formula I’ve seen that has any hope of working imo. I like Andrew’s input also, you blokes might be onto something. Hopefully the powers at AFL House read the article, it could get some legs.”
James of Ascot Vale:
“The concept is great. I like Michael DiFabrizio’s idea of 1 game, but with 4 divisions with promotion and relegation… each game has meaning.”
Michael DiFabrizio is completing his journalism degree. As an AFL writer, he has been an expert columnist at The Roar since 2009, and appeared in The Age and on ABC television and radio. Follow Michael on twitter @mdifabrizio