Here we are. State of Origin time again in the eastern states. That time of the year where the NRL grabs the nation’s sporting headlines and puts on a spectacle for all to see. As a South Australian, we don’t get fully exposed to the media or the rivalry over here. But having been over in Sydney at Origin time and to ANZ Stadium at a Blues win, there really is nothing quite like it. An awesome sporting event.
And right on cue at this time every year, the old debate about whether the AFL should reinvent State of Origin gets bandied around.
Well. Enough. I’m sick of this debate. So let’s end it now once and for all. Here are five reasons why State of Origin will never and should never return to the AFL scene.
One – Who would the game be between? South Australia and Victoria? Victoria and Tasmania? Western Australia and South Australia? The AFL is a national competition now. Well except for Tasmania, but we won’t go there. There are no massive rivalries that exist between the states anymore. That is gone. Over the weekend 4,319 people went to a SANFL versus VFL game. This game used to be huge. Now it hardly gets mentioned.
Two – There is no place for it on the calendar. Even if the draw was to be further tampered with, there is simply no time for a representative match. Now some people will argue the same about the NRL, and I think that the scheduling in that competition needs work too. But the AFL season already spans from April to October. I can’t see the players agreeing to any more extensions of the season without more and more coin.
Three – Clubs won’t allow it. The risk of injuries to a some of the best players is a major issue. Imagine Buddy Franklin running out in an Origin match and then being ruled out for the rest of the year because of injury. That could potentially deny Sydney a premiership. Premierships are the ultimate in the AFL. I’d argue NRL players put representative footy on an equal, if not greater pedestal than a premiership.
Four – There are so many more issues that need to be fixed in the AFL before State of Origin footy should even be thought about. Fixture reform, equalisation, the level of umpiring and goal review technology just to name a few. Get that right and focus on improving the game that already exists before even thinking about adding another element that will expose these issues in the sport.
Five – Ultimately, the AFL doesn’t need State of Origin footy. There is already enough drama and blockbusters throughout an AFL season, that I don’t think representative footy would add to. There are indigenous rounds, big rivalry games and ANZAC Day games that provide big event sport. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I think it would just cause more issues than it would solve.
So when you tune into the big game tonight, by all means enjoy it. Embrace it! It is a great concept, but one that isn’t needed back in Aussie Rules. Leave it to rugby league and see it as a success for that sport, rather than a failure for another one.