Queensland forward Josh McGuire during last year’s Origin series. Picture: Peter Wallis
Queensland forward Josh McGuire during last year’s Origin series. Picture: Peter Wallis

They don’t deserve our prized game

I THOUGHT it was Valentine's Day, not April fools'.

State of Origin in Adelaide? They've got to be kidding.

Whatever genius came up with this pearler should hand in his Scanlan's rugby league footy cards and head for the nearest exit, never to return.

It was bad enough when the faceless fools in the NRL corridors of power started casting Origin pearls before the swine of Melbourne, but Adelaide?

What's next, Alice Springs? Why don't they give the Grand Final to Fremantle while they're at it?

Seriously, when the people charged with protecting, promoting and procreating the game of rugby league come up with decisions like this, you wonder if they have any idea at all.

It's simple. Origin is different, it's special. It's more than a game, and it doesn't belong to the NRL marketing department or the bean counters who have to come up with the cash for the directors' first class travel and hotel rooms.

The Adelaide Oval is a great stadium ... for AFL and cricket. Picture: Bianca De Marchi
The Adelaide Oval is a great stadium ... for AFL and cricket. Picture: Bianca De Marchi

It belongs to the people. The people of Queensland and, to a lesser degree, NSW.

It was Queenslanders who flocked to Lang Park like Catholics to the Vatican when rugby league was on its knees in 1980.

It was Queenslanders who turned what was supposed to be a one-off exhibition match into the most watched, most lucrative, most spiritual sporting event in the country.

Queensland fans embraced Artie Beetson and State of Origin from the first game at Lang Park in 1980.
Queensland fans embraced Artie Beetson and State of Origin from the first game at Lang Park in 1980.

Origin made rugby league the envy of the AFL and its supporters. They wished that they had something even half as good to wrap around themselves like a warm coat on a bitterly cold, wet, windswept Melbourne summer's day.

For once, rugby league had something the nonbelievers wanted. So what does the NRL brains trust do? They give it to them.

First to Melbourne, then to Perth and now to Adelaide for crying out loud.

Oh sure, they have to pay big money for it, but you know what? Let them keep their forty pieces of silver and get their grubby hands off our game.

They don't understand it, they don't deserve it.

New Zealand State of Origin legend Paul ‘Callen’. Picture: Gregg Porteous
New Zealand State of Origin legend Paul ‘Callen’. Picture: Gregg Porteous

In 2012, Victorian Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty didn't even know who was playing. After calling Blues skipper Paul Gallen "Paul Callen", he said Origin was a game between Queensland and New Zealand.

And the level of ignorance and disinterest among the general populace is not much better.

I've been to Origin matches in Melbourne. I've seen the way the AFL faithful go along to watch, exactly as they would to a dog show or a circus. They don't go to admire our game. They go to compare it to theirs.

And rusted-on AFL supporters that they are, that comparison is invariably unfavourable.

It will be exactly the same in Perth and Adelaide.

You only have to read the comments of South Australian Tourism Minister Leon Bignell to see how little he appreciates the history and importance of Origin.

"We expect 30 per cent of the people who go to the game will come from interstate," he said. "That's going to pump $15 million into the economy."

In other words, our game is nothing but a cash cow for the South Australian economy because if true Origin fans want to cheer on their teams they'll have to travel halfway across the country to do it.

Rugby league fans from southern states should be coming here to watch State of Origin, not the other way around. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Rugby league fans from southern states should be coming here to watch State of Origin, not the other way around. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

I've got a suggestion. If South Australians are so keen to watch Origin, how about they get on a plane or a bus and pump a few million into our economy?

Bignell also said, "We're hoping to get the middle game, which is obviously a really crucial one."

Well I'm sure you are sir. Why don't you go all out and ask for the whole series?

Actually, I take that back. Some idiot at the NRL might read it and decide it's a good idea.



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