Sport

State of Origin has evolved into a monster

ON one hand Origin is arguably the most anticipated sporting event in NSW and Queensland. On the other, it is the bane of NRL club officials and fans.

Having been closely associated with the Broncos for most of their 25 years I am acutely aware of the affect Origin has had on the club. Six times in that period they have had 11 players involved in an Origin match, and generally it has been a minimum of four or five.

But clubs like the Cowboys, Storm, Sea Eagles and Dragons have also been hugely impacted over time, so the Broncos aren't the lone wolf. And while the physical damage to those involved in what could be termed a human train wreck can be immense, only the mentally resilient escape the eight-week torture with their wits intact.

Interestingly, Broncos coach Anthony Griffin says his club is not doing its job unless Origin players are produced. I'm not sure that view is shared by the majority of Broncos fans.

Two episodes from Origin I underline why NRL club executives have every right to be bewildered by this rugby league juggernaut.

Clearly, Johnathan Thurston was not fit. The lynchpin of Queensland's attack during their seven-year reign, he took an adductor muscle injury into the match and his lethal kicking arsenal was severely restricted.

Yet he played, and I would never suggest he selfishly did so to pass Gary Larsen for the most successive Origin appearances. But the risk he took backfired and while he will more than likely be fit for game two, he is unlikely to play for the struggling Cowboys again next week.

Episode two involved the suspension of Paul Gallen. He sinned in Origin, yet his penance was served last night in the NRL. The Sharks lose their captain for a vital game, yet the Blues get him back without so much as a hiccup.

Todd Greenberg, presently CEO of the Bulldogs but soon to move to the NRL as head of football, made an interesting admission over the weekend in respect of Sam Kasiano. When Kasiano was recently contemplating his allegiance to Queensland or his native New Zealand, the Bulldogs hedged their bets in relation to re-signing the big prop.

According to Greenberg, Kasiano became a more valuable commodity when he declared himself a Kiwi, meaning he would never be involved in the rigours of Origin.

When he sits in his new chair at the NRL come August, hopefully Greenberg will pack down with his fellow senior administrators and find a solution to the malaise that is Origin football. An antidote is surely needed.

Topics:  nrl magistrate, opinion, state of origin, tony durkin



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