Stop whining and come up with a solution.
That was Queensland coach Mal Meninga’s blunt message to critics of the State of Origin schedule as NRL boss Dave Smith all but ruled out tinkering with it until at least 2018.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler took aim at power brokers after his weakened team’s loss to Gold Coast on Sunday, claiming the NRL became irrelevant during the Origin period and demanding officials fast-track a solution.
Despite growing unrest from clubs, Smith did not expect the Origin schedule to be addressed until after a new TV broadcast deal was announced in 2018.
“It is the jewel in our crown and you tinker with the jewel in your crown at your peril,” Smith said.
Asked if they could change the Origin schedule during their current five-year billion dollar TV deal, Smith said: “The deal is quite specific.
“If you are going to change it you will do it very carefully and there would be no prospect of that without the agreement of the broadcasters.
“I doubt very much they would be prepared to do that with this rights deal.”
Meninga returned fire to Hasler when asked about the Bulldogs mentor’s comments ahead of Wednesday night’s State of Origin game two in Melbourne.
“It’s okay to have an opinion and criticise the current status quo but let’s come up with a solution,” he said.
“No one has come up with a solution yet, have they?
“This is the best scenario as our competition stands at the moment – I have no problems with it at all at the moment.”
NSW coach Laurie Daley could at least empathise with Hasler.
“At times you can understand the frustration of coaches because they are trying to win games of footy – it’s a difficult one,” he said.
Smith did not threaten Hasler with a fine for speaking out on Sunday.
“That’s Des being Des,” he said.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion.
“There’s never a way to please everybody in the game of rugby league.”
Smith believed the Origin schedule “did not dilute” the NRL competition.
However he hoped to one day make everyone happy – even Hasler.
“There’s no perfect situation but we need to get it as perfect as we can so we have a strong premiership and don’t dilute the wonderful thing that is Origin,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is there’s been lots of people talking about the format of Origin for two decades.
“Lots of people have tried and failed – I don’t intend to fail.”