Queensland Reds star Karmichael Hunt reckons players would get behind a rugby union adaptation of State of Origin but warned those behind it not to simply copy the NRL showpiece.
Hunt, who made 10 Origin appearances for Queensland before switching codes, could find himself back in a maroon jersey next year if the concept gets off the ground.
Positive negotiations are continuing between the Queensland, NSW and Australian rugby unions over the feasibility of such a match, designed to provide rugby with some meaningful domestic content during Super Rugby’s international break.
Hunt gave tacit approval to the idea – dubbed ‘State of Union’ – but said there was no point trying to emulate what is an iconic rugby league event.
“There’s only one State of Origin, that’s the honest truth,” Hunt told AAP.
“It’d be interesting to see how it goes, what kind of spin they take on it.
“But at the same time, I know talking to our physio (Cameron Lillicrap), who was at the Reds eons ago, he said the battles between Queensland and NSW back then were quite fiery.
“If we can get something like that in the game at this point in time I don’t see why it wouldn’t be popular. I’d say it would be a fair contest.”
Hunt was curious as to how eligibility would be enforced, a complicated decison that would likely be left to the ARU.
For example, both states could lay a claim to someone like Israel Folau, who was born in NSW and made his senior rugby debut for the Waratahs, but moved to Queensland at a young age and is famous for representing the Maroons.
The QRU is driving the concept and has reserved Ballymore Stadium for Friday, June 30 – a week after Australia meets Italy at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, the final match of June’s Test series, and a week before the resumption of Super Rugby.
In addition to February’s Brisbane Global Tens, where Hunt is expected to make his return from a long-term groin injury, it has the potential to add some much-needed spark to an often stodgy rugby union calendar.
“Like anything, you have to evolve. They’re looking at adding new aspects and new avenues to the game, so good on them,” Hunt said.