NSW legend Brad Fittler says stand-alone State of Origin weekends won’t work because they will not give the game’s stars enough time to prepare physically for the matches.
Fittler’s comments come after Brisbane supercoach Wayne Bennett’s criticism of the NRL for not doing enough to lessen the load on its Origin elite.
Bennett blamed fatigue for Brisbane fullback Darius Boyd’s groin injury in Friday night’s win over Newcastle and Maroons prop Josh Maguire suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
NSW coach Laurie Daley could also be on the lookout for a new second-rower, with Beau Scott lasting just 14 minutes in the same game before succumbing to a shoulder issue.
While Bennett’s words will again spark the Origin scheduling debate, Fittler is adamant stand-alone Origin games aren’t the answer.
“You can’t just have stand-alone weekends because that means you’re only going to give them a week,” he said.
“And a week won’t keep the quality up. The quality’s because of the rest they’re getting, and that’s because of the nine and 12-day build-up.”
Fittler, who played 31 games for the Blues from 1990-2004, believed the game’s administrators would be loathe to change the current set-up that could reportedly net them $416,000 per minute in the next broadcast deal.
NRL CEO Dave Smith has already indicated Origin could be sold separately to the premiership.
“Origin pays now for about a third of the NRL. They’re asking for something like $500 million. We’re looking for $1.5 billion (in the next deal),” Fittler said.
“They’re the numbers. You’re talking about a third, and it only affects seven weeks of the year, really.
“You’ve got to be able to fit in – not just a week for Origin, you’ve got to fit in nine days to 12 days.
“So how are you going to fit in three lots of 12 days without disadvantaging teams? It’s going to be pretty hard.”