ARLC to look at stand-alone Origin

Acting ARLC chief executive Shane Mattiske says the prospect of a stand-alone State of Origin competition will be considered by the commission for next season.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga and NSW skipper Paul Gallen on Thursday echoed calls from Melbourne’s Craig Bellamy and Canterbury’s Des Hasler for players not to have to back up from Origin for their clubs.

Speaking at the launch of the NRL’s Close The Gap Indigenous round, Mattiske conceded the Commission will need to look at the issues raised.

“We’ve always been focused on ensuring we have Origin right,” Mattiske said.

“That means getting the balance right to get the best product for our fans, both at the grounds and on TV, and that includes managing the loads on our players.

“It’s something we are looking at, and it’s something that will be reviewed with the new broadcast deal.”

Gallen, who returns to action for Cronulla for the first time since Origin this weekend after an injury sustained in game three, said it’s become too hard for players to turn out for their clubs and state in the same week.

“I never thought it before, but now I think it should be,” Gallen said on Thursday.

“You see how many players have come out struggling and it is only going to get faster and stronger. It deserves its own weekend.

“It’s best for the players that you don’t back up after three or four days. It’s too hard mentally and physically.”

Meninga concurred with the Blues captain and said player welfare has to be the biggest consideration for the commission.

“This series in particular, I haven’t seen one as physical or more demanding,” Meninga said.

“They have to start making sure the welfare of the players is paramount and look at ways where they’re rested and that clubs aren’t inconvenienced by it.

“I’m in favour of stand-alone if they can get the scheduling right.”

North Queensland chief executive Peter Jourdain also gave backing to the idea.

The Cowboys lost four key players in last year’s series and Jourdain said it’s hard to sell games to fans when the side are without their star names.

“We understand there are pluses and minuses for both, but our players would be in favour of a stand-alone weekend,” Jourdain told AAP.

“It’s definitely harder for us commercially without the Origin guys playing, so I think the stand-alone would be better for everybody.”

Mattiske, who took over from the deposed David Gallop in June, was non-committal when asked about the prospect of keeping the job permanently.

“It’s a great challenge and I am really enjoying it, the game is in great shape and it’s a good time to be involved,” Mattiske said.

“I am simply focused on doing my best in this short timeframe.

“There is a process in place for the recruitment of the new CEO. It’s being managed by a professional firm and they’ll work through that appropriately.”

“It is something that is being worked through via the committee.”

Mattiske was equally evasive about the progress of the broadcast deal which is still to be announced, with corporate fixers Greenhill Caliburn dealing with the negotiations.

“We’re absolutely making progress, it’s a very important thing that we must achieve to keep the game’s future strong and build for our future,” he said.

“There is no definite timetable we are working to and it will be done as soon as possible.”

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