Queensland captain Cameron Smith has backed the NRL’s move to sell State of Origin games interstate or overseas – but not on an annual basis.
Speaking amid revelations from NRL CEO Todd Greenberg that he aims to sell one Origin game a year to a neutral venue from 2018, Smith warned against moving too many games.
“I think primarily we need to keep the games in Queensland and NSW,” Smith said.
“(Origin is about) Queensland versus NSW.
“You don’t want to tamper with it too much.”
Smith believed the current model, which has Melbourne hosting an Origin game every three years, is the best.
Last year an Origin record crowd of 91,513 packed the MCG for NSW’s game two win over Queensland – the sold out clash understood to have generated $12 million for the NRL.
Under the current system, each state hosts two games in a series every third year.
“The experiment where we have taken games to Melbourne on a three-year rotation has been a success,” Smith said.
“You’ve seen that in the numbers.
“We’ve got a ground record at Etihad Stadium (56,021 in 2012) and last year at the MCG there were 92,000 – the record crowd for Origin.
“That shows the support it has outside of the two states.”
Smith believed Auckland’s 60,000-strong Eden Park or Perth could be successful future Origin hosts.
“I think the people of WA would get behind it,” he said.
“And I talk to the Kiwi boys in my side in Melbourne and they say Origin time is absolutely mad (in New Zealand) – they love it.
“If you took a game to say Eden Park there would be no dramas selling a game out there.”
The Queensland government weren’t so supportive, vowing to lobby hard to keep games at Suncorp Stadium.
Queensland will receive two home games next year before the NRL tinkers with the Origin schedule in 2018.
“I was outraged to see that there’s the potential that we would lose the advantage that we currently have with State of Origin games,” Major Events Minister Kate Jones said.
“We know that State of Origin is a great product.
“The NRL shouldn’t forget that this is … between NSW and Queensland and Queensland fans deserve to be able to attend those games live.”