Origin is a special competition, from its unique nature fostered by a state duopoly on the NRL to the passion it ignites that is generally reserved for only the fiercest international sporting rivalries.
There is no other event quite like it in the world and everything that can be done to protect it must be considered.
After all, AFL had their own State of Origin series that petered out and died over time due to nervous clubs not willing to risk their players in what was seen as a pointless series.
But for NRL fans and players, Origin is not pointless. In a sport with little international competition, Origin could almost be seen as a hotly contested, yearly World Cup between the two titans of the rugby league community. Both state teams would beat most international sides with ease but one crucial element would be missing in those hypothetical contests.
Passion is the fuel Origin has survived and flourished on for decades. Passion is what made Josh Morris limp back on to the field after tearing his PCL to tackle Greg Inglis and help give NSW their first series victory in nine years.
Passion is why Allan Langer answered Queensland’s SOS call to come back from England to fight for them one more time in 2001.
Without this passion, the game will wither into a husk of its former self and surely die, as it did in the AFL.
Unfortunately we can see a fleeting glimpse of this fading passion starting to occur with this Luke Keary situation.
When the new Origin eligibility criteria were introduced in 2012, Luke Keary was ruled as a New South Welshman despite growing up in Queensland and idolising their players as any young Queensland fan is bound by state law to do.
Naturally, there is some discomfort, then, that he is being forced to play for New South Wales and one can hardly blame him for that. In his mind he surely was a Queenslander – after all, he wrote to Todd Greenberg specifically asking whether his status could be changed.
I sympathise with him and this stubbornness does show his passion for his original state. The problem comes now that Keary is well and truly in talks for Origin selection, and he seems content to play for the Blues.
He has made a few feeble statements about how he is there for NSW “if they ever need me” and has been in and around the camp for a few years now, signaling his debut is imminent.
But fans of Origin don’t want someone to have to play for their state. They want them to fight for every chance they get to put on their maroon or blue jersey. No doubt the rumored $30,000 payment per game is alluring to players even on Keary’s salary, but it can’t just be about the money in Origin or the fans will sense it and the money will dry up anyway.
Now is the time, with recent talks firing up again about Queensland trying to poach Keary, for him to decide which direction to go in and stick with it with all his heart.
If he really has had a change of heart then he should come out firing, throw all the speculation away and shout from the rooftops about how he bleeds blue.
However, the fact that he hasn’t done this and allows rumors to keep swirling suggests he really does want to play for Queensland and is only begrudgingly putting on the opposition jersey.
Luke, if you still feel yourself a Queenslander, then fight for that. Fight to play for them and take it to the highest authority you can. NSW fans might not like it but they will respect it and your home state will love you for it.
It’s not the easy option but Origin isn’t about it being easy.
If you are a Queenslander, then be a Queenslander. If you are a New South Welshman, then be a New South Welshman.
The only thing Origin demands of you is to not be soft and, if you play for New South Wales despite still loving Queensland, then that is the soft way out and an unforgivable sin to both states.