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It’s time. After 15 years in exile, it’s time that the AFL brings back State of Origin football.
The debate has been raging on for many years, especially after the one-off Victoria versus Dream Team match in 2008, about whether representative footy should be brought back.
Yesterday, two of the game’s best players, Scott Pendlebury and Gary Ablett, gave a glowing endorsement for the return of State of Origin.
The biggest logistical factor previously, was that many of the elite players wouldn’t be enticed to play. That’s now be quashed, with not only Pendlebury and Ablett wanting to play but many more.
A recent survey was conducted by the AFLPA (Australian Football League Players’ Association) on 80 of the game’s most elite players, about whether State of Origin should return. The results were staggering – every single player surveyed wanted State of Origin back.
The fans have always wanted it, television broadcasters dream of it and now the players want it back, it almost looks like a certainty. Almost.
How awesome would be it to see Ablett, Pendlebury and Joel Selwood running around in the same midfield wearing the ‘Big V’? The West Australian team would have abundance of freakish talent with stars such as Lewis Jetta, Nic Naitanui and Lance Franklin all sharing a guernsey.
Or what about the monster forward line ‘The Allies’ could have, featuring the two Riewoldts, Kurt Tippett and Tom Hawkins. It’s just mouth-watering thinking about the teams and how good they could be.
It would also end the argument that modern day games are boring and ugly.
Bringing in only the best players into two teams would showcase extremely high skills and freakish abilities that would make for amazing viewing.
Back in 2008, it was a big success. Although it only had a mere crowd of 69,000 people, the television ratings were huge for Channel Ten, with almost 1.3 million people tuning into the match. During that week, the game was hyped up and promoted heavily.
Not only did it deliver to the hype that was expected, but it went an extra yard by producing a great game of football. Brendan Fevola went on a rampage, kicking six goals as the ‘Big V’ snuck past the Dream Team by 17 points. Many players that played in that game would still state the Hall of Fame Tribute match as one of the highlights of their careers, if not the highlight of their career.
With the players now being on board, how the teams are set up and the eligibility of which player goes to which team is going to be the biggest hurdle from now on.
The Victoria versus Dream Team or Victoria versus The Rest concept could be brought back, to try and diminish the dominance the Victorian team could have.
But if the AFL wants to bring this back, it should be brought back properly. Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Allies (New South Wales, ACT, Queensland, NT and Tasmania) should all be involved, just like it was back in the 90s.
Currently, the AFL is easily dominating the sporting war against the NRL. But one thing that the NRL has over the AFL is the State of Origin.
It makes AFL players and fans envious that the NRL has a State of Origin and AFL doesn’t. The NRL State of Origin is one of the most fascinating and hyped-up rivalries quite possibly in the world, let alone Australia.
It’s always a gruelling battle between two states that despise each other dearly. And, each year, it seems to get bigger and bigger.
Should the AFL bring back State of Origin, it will undoubtedly make it the greatest sport in this country.