Paul McGregor and Paul Green have added their voices to a growing chorus of NRL coaches calling for a rethink of State of Origin scheduling.
Green’s North Queensland Cowboys defeated McGregor’s St George Illawarra outfit 18-12 on Saturday with both sides missing a host of representative stars because of Wednesday’s Origin decider.
The win was just the Cowboys’ sixth win in five years without playmaker Johnathan Thurston and they were also without his halves partner Michael Morgan and their starting front row of Matt Scott and James Tamou.
The Dragons had to resort to fielding their third-string fullback Justin Hunt with Josh Dugan in NSW camp and Jason Nightingale out injured.
They also missed the impact and long minutes of Trent Merrin with their entire starting back-row – which also includes Joel Thompson (hamstring) and Tyson Frizell (back) – out.
Some of the brightest coaching minds in the game – including Canterbury’s Des Hasler, Brisbane’s Wayne Bennett, Manly’s Geoff Toovey and the Sydney Roosters’ Trent Robinson – have already called for an overhaul.
Bennett, who is on the NRL’s competition committee, last week said the NRL “don’t get it” and questioned whether the governing body was concerned about player welfare.
While Robinson said he supported Origin being condensed into a three-week period with a ten-day gap between each match.
The NRL is in the midst of negotiating its next TV deal, which will come in in 2018, however Green said he would like to see change next year.
“I’d like to hope that we don’t have to go through it without our Origin players,” Green said.
“I’ve said before Origin is a wonderful showpiece for the game.
“But it’s not about Origin, it’s about the competition. We’ve just got to value the competition a little bit more.
“It really does lose a bit of momentum through that period.
“The up side is you do give some young blokes an opportunity through that period where there’s not as much pressure and expectation.”
He admitted there was no easy solution but added it needed to be overhauled.
McGregor agreed, saying there were better options out there.
“It’s probably something I don’t like to get into because I can’t control it,” he said.
“But it’s hard to play without your better players when they’re a big part of your football team. Tonight we certainly missed them two guys.
“We still put a football team out there to play and I thought they played well.
“Field position played a big part tonight as well and we didn’t really get that.”