State of Origin not right for rugby

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Nathan Grey is a fan of this year’s newest rugby innovation but the Waratahs assistant feels the code doesn't need a new State of Origin.

NSW and Queensland have been in talks this week over the possibility of introducing a rugby version of rugby league’s State of Origin, with everyone from ARU CEO Bill Pulver to Wallabies captain Stephen Moore throwing their support behind the idea.

Grey, who is originally from Queensland but played for NSW, said he felt the Reds vs Waratahs was a fierce enough north-south rivalry, a game that will only come once this season under the new Super Rugby format.

Nathan Grey says Super Rugby doesn't lend itself to Origin. Photo: Getty Images“I think the format of rugby at the moment in terms of Super Rugby, it's unfortunate we're only playing the Reds once this year,” he said.

“Those games are the Rugby Union equivalent of the State of Origin and I think if you go trying to throw comparisons to the two it's crazy.

“The uniqueness of the rugby league State of Origin, the history and whatnot, you look at hat in an isolated lens and then you look at the rugby union rivalry for the Templeton Cup.

“I know as a player how much that cup was revered and I know the boys when we play have held it for a while now.

“That trophy means an awful lot to both the teams and franchises. I think we play, we like playing the Reds anytime. Every time we play them in Super Rugby, that's the equivalent of the State of Origin.”

Drew Mitchell, speaking after his side's final game in Brisbane, echoed Grey's sentiment, citing the different domestic formats.

"I don't know, I think it's different in rugby league because they play for a club and they go play for a state and they go back to their club," he said./p>

"Here they're playing for a state, go play for a different, go back to a different state, that part I'm not too sure about.

"I like the concept, I like the idea of the rivalry and I always grew up loving State of Origin but just the whole wearing blue and saying, 'we bleed blue', one week and then going to play in a Queensland jersey and then going back to it, that I'm not too sure about.

"But if I was smarter I'd be making those decisions, but I'm not."

Israel Folau hasn't seen much game time for the Waratahs at the Tens. Photo: WalmsleyIsrael Folau is one of the few current players who has featured in State of Origin clashes as an NRL player, but said he hadn’t given much thought to the rugby concept.

“It's been tossed around here and there but I'm not too sure. I haven't really put too much thought into it until it comes to life and you start thinking about it a bit more. At the moment, I've put no thoughts into it.

Despite declaring his allegiance to Queensland in the past, Folau said he would don the sky blue when asked on Sunday.

Folau was the only regular Wallabies starter to feature in the Waratahs’ Tens side and played just the opening match of their three clashes.

The back said he would have been happy to play a bigger role but the Waratahs opted to keep him in cotton wool, with Super Rugby around the corner.

“I’m always pretty keen for a run but obviously listening to what the coaching staff advised, it's always, for me as a player, they're just looking out for what's best for me and I guess the mindset is looking ahead to that Super Rugby season which is what is really important to us,” he said.

NSW will likely show off their first-choice Super Rugby side on Thursday, in their trial against the Highlanders at Brookvale Oval, with only Rob Horne (shoulder) and Cam Clark (ankle) on the casualty list.