Representative football scheduling hurts the NRL competition
NSW fans cheer for their team
Amidst the annual ‘silly season’, the debate once more ignites as to whether the NRL’s show piece event, State of Origin, deserves a stand alone weekend.
The three-part annual fixture boasts revenue figures in excess of $34M, however the absence of the top-flight players inevitably detracts from the quality of club matches.
In light of the forthcoming television rights deal, the NRL must be genuinely weighing up the pros and cons of the current fixture system. Friday night’s ‘should be blockbuster’ of Brisbane (3rd) versus Cronulla (4th) will be without nine representative players; including the likes of Thaiday, Parker, Carney and Gallen.
The Suncorp crowd may still exceed 30,000 parochial supporters, however with the inclusion of the aforementioned players, the game could potentially have been a 50,000+ supporter sell out.
Queensland Maroons’ halfback Johnathan Thurston told the Courier Mail “it would be great to have a stand alone origin … The toll that it takes on your body both physically and mentally and for players to back up two days later; where is the player welfare?”
Earlier in the season the NRL effectively managed the ANZAC Test and City versus Country fixtures, providing all 16 clubs with a week off to ensure player recovery.
The NRL could further adapt such methods and apply them to the six week Origin period, allowing all state players to play for their respective clubs. In turn, this would maintain the quality of club football as well as player fitness heading into the latter part of the 26 round season, ahead of finals fixtures.
It is clear that something must be done.
The game receives so much from the players who throw their bodies on the line in the high profile fixtures. These players deserve some consideration when it comes to match planning.
The player, as well as the clubs and fans, make the game what it is. They should be entitled to see the best players on the field in the season’s most compelling mid-season matches.