Country rugby league boss Terry Quinn has conceded the City-Country game will be scrapped, but is confident the NRL will compensate by bringing more games to the bush.
The NRL has yet to make a final decision on the annual fixture, which has come under a cloud after Monday’s announcement of a record $925 million free-to-air deal with Channel Nine that begins in 2018.
With Origin II now to be played alongside international Tests on a stand-alone representative weekend, the traditional game looks set to be squeezed out.
Quinn, who said he has yet to receive a phone call from NRL boss Dave Smith, said he was resigned to losing the City-Country clash.
“I’ve just got that gut feeling, that’s the way it’s looking,” Quinn told AAP.
“I just haven’t got an answer yet, yes or no. And Smith hasn’t committed either way.”
After 87 games between the Country and City players, Quinn said he hadn’t given up hope of continuing the representative match, but warmed to the idea of having more NRL games hosted in the bush.
“If we can do both, it’d be great. That’d be our push, to try and fit the game in, because it means so much to a lot of people,” he said.
“But if we got four, even six, full-blown competition games that are fully funded by the NRL at no cost to the local clubs, that could work for us.
“As long as we can co-brand it, plus they’d work with clinics in communities while they were out there, not just flying in Friday, play Saturday and go home.
“I think we can come to some sort of compromise, but obviously our first preference would be to play the City-Country game.”
Quinn admitted the City-Country fixture was no longer a genuine trial for NSW Origin spots, but believed it still provided a platform for the state’s promising talents to develop their representative claims.
“A lot of people will tell you it’s not, and we’d accept that as well,” he said.
“But we’d think that’d still be good for us. And it gives an opportunity for us to look at some other players to see if they can lift to a representative level, particularly for Laurie (Daley).”