State of Origin has been a topic of hot debate over the last couple of years. Can the AFL get it to work again?
Growing up in the 90’s, State of Origin was some of the best football to watch. Seeing a bunch of star players in the same team made for an awesome spectacle, with players like Gary Ablett Snr, Tony Lockett and Jason Dunstall player along side each other. Despite fielding more teams, it wasn’t just Victoria who could field an amazing side, with South Australia guns such as Darren Jarman, Stephen Kernahan and Tony Modra taking it up to the Big V.
I was lucky enough to attend the last State of Origin game back in 1999 and it’s hard to believe that was 16 years ago, however at lot has changed in that time that may help bring it back.
AFL has gone from strength to strength since the turn of the century, fuelled by the massive TV rights deals and commercialisation of the game. Crowds are larger, TV audiences are massive, clubs are gaining record memberships and sponsorships are bigger than ever. With the popularity of the EJ Whitten Legend Game, as well as decent crowds at the International Rules series, I have no doubt that the public would once again back the State of Origin competition.
Another significant change is the growth of the game across Australia. During the 90’s, as expected, Victoria and South Australia were a level above the others and these games dominated the State of Origin series. In recent years the number of players recruited from other states is catching up, allowing for a more balanced competition.
The NRL State of Origin is one of the biggest sporting events in the country and this is on the back of the players regard for the competition. To play for your state and win origin is possibly the greatest honour for a league player. This is something that is built over years.
After losing State of Origin in the 90’s, can AFL players of the current day create a passion for representative football once again? In recent years, some of the biggest names have come out in support of re-introducing the competition, including Gary Ablett Jnr and Scott Pendlebury. They are amongst of a number of players along with the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) who have put a proposal together for 2016.
It was proven back in November that the players can get behind this and make it a success, with the squad that was produced for the 2014 International Rules series. Only players selected in the All Australia team for the year were eligible to be selected for the squad so this committed some the best players in the country to the competition. This shows that the players are willing to represent their country and may also strive to represent their state. Below is the International Rules squad for 2014.
2014 International Rules Squad
Once of the biggest road blocks for the State of Origin competition is injuries. This is totally understandable for clubs, as they don’t want to lose players to injury which would affect their season. To minimise the chances of this, I think the competition could take place after the AFL season. Other than unlikely event of a serious knee injury, this would give players a chance to recover in time for the next season.
What are your thoughts? Do you want to see the return of the State of Origin competition? Do you think it will be a success? Please vote in the poll and feel free to leave your thoughts below in the comments sections.