We are at t-minus two nights until State of Origin returns for 2017, and as always, this years’ Series is already generating plenty of hype before a ball is even kicked.
But what if there were a way to make the greatest spectacle in Australian sport even better?
Here are three ideas to improve the State of Origin experience to ensure we get an even better show in coming years.
Right now, typically 18 or 19, sometimes 20 players are named in an Origin squad, with teams finalised usually the night before or on the night.
This always generates plenty of debate and conjecture about who should and shouldn’t have been named, and let’s be honest, naming a SOO squad requires a fair amount of guesswork about who will and won’t adapt to the conditions.
So what if we extend the squads? Instead of your stock standard 17-man team and a few emergencies, how about we open the squads up to 34 – philosophically, a projected 17 and another 17 of challengers.
This way, coaches would get to exactly who’s up for it and who isn’t – or at least as well as they possibly can know before they drop them into the cauldron.
Take Nathan Peats for example. Long pinned as a future New South Wales Blue, most were excited to see the Gold Coast Titans hooker picked for his debut in the big show (myself included).
But what if he’s not capable of what we thought he might be? It could happen. Why not invite a Jayden Brailey to the squad to shadow him, or a Cameron McInnes?
It couldn’t hurt, and what a great experience for those young men that’d no doubt add a sizeable jewel to their crown, and improve their club play, knowing how close they are.
Having a player in a State of Origin squad full stop is proven to be healthy via osmosis. But there’s bound to be a fair amount of protest to this from NRL head coaches, such as Wayne Bennett and Des Hasler.
So, to combat this, we also need…