State of Origin is a big deal, the NRL know it as they let their regular season go to rubbish for two months.
The broadcaster knows it too. State of Origin is a cash cow.
It is Channel Nine’s big chance to reconnect with a lot of rugby league fans who have become either Fox League snobs, or disconnected with rugby league in general.
The Channel Nein team were helped by one of the better first halves of State of Origin in recent years, and as such the usual annoyances of having to adapt to free-to-air broadcasts of 2016 were not quite as pronounced.
Overall, the coverage was better than expected, even for a Fox League snob, but not much has changed from year to year, and they are in desperate need of fresh blood. Instead of signing Rabs for another five, they should have paid whatever it took to steal Warren Smith from Fox Sports.
After each Origin match there is usually a parade of player ratings and rankings for on-field performances, so why not judge the off field maestros that bring the on-field action to life?
State of Origin Game 1 coverage
» Match report and final score: Blues destroy Maroons at Suncorp Stadium
» State of Origin live scores and blog
» WATCH: James Maloney opens the scoring with an early try
» WATCH: Jarryd Hayne and Cooper Cronk trade moments of brilliance
Provided here is the State of Origin 1 Channel Nine Origin Coverage Power Rankings. To be honest this was originally created in anticipation of the coverage being awful after spending the 2017 season on the Fox League Channel, but it wasn’t that bad as the scores below show.
Pre game: 3/10
The sooner they get rid of A Current Affair before the game the better. There is no bigger mood killer than the utter dross on offer. Start the football earlier please.
A nice touch to let the current players have their say first in the coverage, and then the former players joined in and it looked like the usual stuff from last year.
Gus’s opener has been dumped and he didn’t look that happy about it on the pre-game panel.
Channel Nine seemed to have dropped the junior club of the player as part of the team list graphics, whether that is a coincidence, or that with no Greg Inglis they no longer feel the need to point out his junior club is from NSW, is up to those slightly more cynical.
No Yvonne Sampson, who wisely moved to Fox to be taken seriously, but the straight man James Bracey did a reasonable commercially sound job in the thankless non ex-footballer position.
The ads are annoying, but a necessary evil on free-to-air sporting broadcasts. The Sportsbet ads that featured two Joel Caines was about 1.5 too many.
The pre game music is always unnecessary, and as good as Birds of Tokyo are and that music can be part of the game day experience, for State of Origin it is all about the football. While the choice of having music is not Channel Nine’s fault, if they got rid of ACA it may fit better.
Three out of ten may be harsh, but until ACA is dropped or they do something ground breaking in analysis or entertainment it won’t be rated higher.
Ray Warren: 7/10
There was a collective sigh of despair among a lot of football fans when Channel Nine announced that Ray Warren had signed for another five years with WWOS. The consensus is that the five-year contract would extend Rabs’ use by date to 15 years ago, at a minimum.
For the Origin 1 broadcast he had the right tone, didn’t get too excited. Keep himself in control mostly when the Blues started and continued to dominate. Not as many mistakes as he had been accused of in the past.
It could have been worse, and in most years it really has been.
Peter Sterling: 9/10
There’s something soothing about Peter Sterling, usually a lone voice of reason, calmness and elocution in the Channel Nein bunker. About the only thing missed when dedicating yourself to a life of Fox League snobbery.
He was a little more excited than usual, but who could blame him when surrounded at Origin time by mediocrity in the commentary box and by his beloved Blues out on the field.
Phil Gould: 7.5/10
Maybe it was the pace of the game, or maybe the occasion, but Gus’ interjections were mostly well timed, and without the slight tinges of moan that accompanies the usual coverage (that I remember from watching Channel Nein NRL from before the Fox Sports era).
Thankfully also, there was none of the Two Little Old Ladies Arguing at a Bus Stop routine he shares with Rabs in the more ordinary matches.
Gus may well be immensely disliked north of the Tweed, but most can’t deny he has one of the better brains when it comes to League, and when he drops the Sunday afternoon shtick you almost wish you could hear him more often. Almost.
The use of ‘we’ still annoys, but his loyalty is well known and accepted by league fans, if not loved.
Paul Vautin: 3/10
The problem with having token Queenslander in the main commentary box is he was just that. Like most Queensland commentators he tends to overcompensate for being a Queenslander and heap extra praise on NSW. Or his years away from week to week calling means he is virtually irrelevant when it comes to proper broadcasting.
The Footy Show may win Logies as they are at pains to tell you, but that means stuff all or next to nothing when it comes to proper broadcasting. Had almost less impact to the match than Sam Thaiday.
Wally Lewis/Andrew Johns: 5/10
Reduced to bit players and thankfully kept out of the main commentators box. Like coaching, immortal status doesn’t always translate to off field excellence when it comes to broadcasting.
The half-time analysis seemed to get in the way of the 400 ads that are needed to justify the coverage, so the use of the legends was dimmed further still.
Men in the sheds – Brad Fittler and Darren Lockyer: 7/10
They try hard, and ‘Freddy’ seems to be getting better with each passing year for a Fox League snob. Darren Lockyer really needs to get to Fox League soon though. Get some reasonable insights from them.
The interviews on half time are almost as unnecessary as the NRL Marvel Heroes round. But the post game interviews weren’t bad.
It could have been worse, and in many years if has been. Had a great first half, which did all the work for them, and didn’t lose the plot when a big NSW looked a formality.
Not enough to tempt this Fox League snob off Channel 502, but thankful that it was less painful a drop in class than usual.
The ads came thick and fast straight and the analysis was drawn out after the game as expected, but by then the game and the coverage didn’t matter. Off to bed for the dreaded Thursday workday, and high hopes for the next Origin. On the field that is.