Rugby league’s promise: State of Origin is on
They don't know where, they don't when, but they worked out how. State of Origin is on.
A high-powered meeting between the NRL, NSWRL and QRL started formulating financial plans for this year's Origin series.
The NRL season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic but officials are designing a funding model to ensure Origin is ready when rugby league finally returns.
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Respected NSWRL chief executive Dave Trodden, chairman George Peponis, QRL managing director Rob Moore and chairman Bruce Hatcher were involved in the 90-minute hook-up along with ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and chief financial officer Tony Crawford.
The NRL is absolutely desperate for Origin to be played this year given the three-match series generates about $15 million in revenue along with record television ratings.
"I don't know where it will be or when it will be," Trodden told The Daily Telegraph. "But Origin will go ahead - I'm very optimistic it will go ahead. Origin is the jewel in the crown.
"If rugby league gets back during the course of the year, and everyone is optimistic it will, then Origin has to be part of it because, commercially, the game can't afford for Origin not to be played.
"We're planning for that, we're planning on being part of it. The discussion really concentrated on funding rather than anything football-specific.
"We spoke about all the costs about putting it on - travel costs, accommodation costs, player payments, support staff costs, coaches, trainers, physios.
"It's problematic at the moment because we don't know with any certainty what the position is just yet but we're quite optimistic Origin will go ahead.
"In our budget we need to provide for all the costs associated with that."
However, no decision was made whether the series would proceed with scheduled games in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.
Debate at the meeting also centred around funding for all levels of rugby league.
"The NRL has been talking to players about their funding model so today they talked to the states (associations) about what their funding model looked like," Trodden said.
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"We had a lengthy and productive meeting and there is a general acceptance across the NRL and both states that we all need to work together to make sure we get through this. We will reconvene next week having had a chance to think about what sort of funding implications there will be for each of the states about coronavirus."
Officials at the meeting also discussed funding models to run pathway and junior competitions, including Canterbury Cup, Ron Massey Cup, Sydney Shield, women's competition, Laurie Daley Cup, Andrew Johns Cup, Harold Matthews, Jersey Flegg, SG Ball, under 16s, 18s, 20s, State of Origin and country football.
There was debate about ensuring none of the 160,000 juniors across NSW and Queensland would be lost to the game and how to help struggling country clubs.
"The pathways are very important. Ultimately we need to make sure we just don't preserve the NRL but preserve those 160,000 people as well," Trodden said. "We can't afford to lose any junior teams because ultimately we don't have a game. If you lose one of those clubs, it's then very difficult to get them back again. They are a priority.
"In regional areas, it's the local pub or club that sponsors the local team. While they're closed they don't have the capacity to provide funding and that affects regional football. Across the game there is an acceptance that everyone will be supported. That's what we're working towards."
Originally published as Rugby league's promise: State of Origin is on