Could State of Origin football be in for a facelift when rugby league eventually returns?
Arguably rugby league’s greatest tradition, Origin has seen New South Wales and Queensland go head-to-head in one of Australian sports greatest rivalry.
However, former Queensland coach Graham Lowe believes it’s time the format’s spectacle welcomes some changes.
Lowe believes the game should allow a New Zealand team and a combined Pacific Island team as opposed to loosening the criteria to qualify QLD or NSW.
Blues coach Brad Fitler suggested a tweak to the selection criteria as a way to ensure the games best players are selected for the showpiece event every year.
Fitler told The Sydney Morning Herald he believes it would take the games biggest spectacle to another level.
Lowe acknowledged believes Origin is losing its integrity with the amount of flexibility showed at the moment.
The 1991 Origin winning coach said that a four-way series could help capitalise on the rise of island nation Tonga.
“Resource-wise, those Island nations would find it hard to do it on their own but an Island-team that encompassed the Islands, that would be a start,” Lowe told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“It could be a combination of Tonga, Fiji and Samoa. There’s certainly enough firepower there.
“I would see a new representative window altogether. There’s easily enough talent from New Zealand and the criteria for Origin could become far more stringent.”
This isn’t the first time the idea of a New Zealand team joining the Origin series has been suggested. Former Kiwi captain Benji Marshall has spoken about the loss New Zealand rugby league faces with young Kiwi stars aligning wit Australia when possible so they can feature in State of Origin.
Lowe believes the game needs to highlight Test matches again which he deems to have become irrelevant.
“However, it’s going to start again, it’s got to start with a fresh look.
“The biggest risk to international football is the fact it’s being disrespected by the clubs. The clubs haven’t allowed any window for it to be played.”