Newcastle are poised to part ways with coach Nathan Brown at the end of this NRL season after an underwhelming year, according to a report.
NSW winger Josh Addo-Carr hopes he’s at least given some Victorians a reason to cross to the other side at the MCG and support the Blues.
The Melbourne flyer will on Wednesday become the first Storm player to play a State of Origin match for NSW in Victoria since Matt King in 2006 when he makes his debut for the Blues.
Since then, six Storm players have played in front of their adopted city for Queensland, while Cameron Munster and Felise Kaufusi will add to that list when they run out with Billy Slater and Will Chambers this week.
It’s part of the reason why Victorians have latched onto the Maroons. The other, they half joke, is that they’re not from NSW.
But Addo-Carr has turned into a fan favourite for the Storm in the past year-and-a-half as he’s flown to the top of the try-scoring lists.
And with the retirement of Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, the man affectionately known as The Fox hopes he can at least turn some of the locals into Blues.
“I hope this gives them another reason to go for NSW now,” Addo-Carr said.
“All the Storm supporters down there went for Queensland because I think there was only Queenslanders in an Origin side.
“It’s a blessing to play on Wednesday, and what a coincidence to play in front of all my teammates and all the fans.”
NSW will fly into Melbourne on Sunday, while the Maroons arrive on Monday with the exception of coach Kevin Walters and captain Greg Inglis, who arrive a night earlier.
It’s expected just under 30,000 fans from both states will join them for the pilgrimage in a crowd of around 80,000.
Victoria has traditionally been a home for Queensland off the field, but on it the honours are split.
The Blues won the last match played in Melbourne in 2015 at the MCG, but lost the previous three which were all at Docklands to make for a 4-4 split in the city.
The neutral venue has often proved a decisive point in Origin football.
On seven of the eight times a game has been played in Melbourne, the team that has won in the Victorian capital has gone on to win the series.
Origin will visit new horizons in 2019 and 2020 when the neutral games head to Perth and Adelaide for the first times, before returning to Melbourne in both 2021 and 2025.
Addo-Carr said he’d seen the sport grow in state – particularly in Melbourne’s west – in just the 18 months he’d spent with the Storm after debuting with the Wests Tigers in 2016.
“You get people coming up to you here and there, especially out in the western suburbs,” Addo-Carr said.
“It’s starting to grow slowly. They’re starting to build rugby league facilities down there.”