NRL eager to trial experimental post-season timeslot for State of Origin

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys believes the post-season State of Origin series will “rate the roof off”, but conceded the NRL has not decided whether to persist with the experimental format in future years.

Rather than its traditional timeslot in the winter months, the 2020 State of Origin was pushed back to November following the coronavirus lockdown.

The end-of-year series undeniably has its benefits. In past years, the departure of Origin players left powerhouse clubs with depleted rosters halfway through a premiership, and the current format negates that problem.

But the post-season timeslot also presents Origin players with a reduced off-season, and fatigue becomes a genuine concern.

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Ahead of Wednesday evening’s series opener at Adelaide Oval, V’landys revealed the NRL would make a call on the scheduling of future State of Origin series within days of Game Three.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys.Source:News Corp Australia

“If I’m any sample or focus group, I go home now on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and think, ‘Where is the football game?’ It’s long enough away from the grand final for people to be really missing it,” V’landys said.

“You would think it’s going to rate the roof off. With all the negatives of COVID, it’s given us a positive to try this.

“The concern for me is the players, and having it after the season is just putting a little bit more pressure on them. But we’ll just see what happens.”

Next year’s Rugby League World Cup is scheduled to commence in October, which suggests the 2021 State of Origin series would almost certainly return to its traditional mid-season format.

But as the number of COVID-19 cases in Great Britain continues to climb, it’s uncertain whether the event can go ahead.

New South Wales Blues halfback Nathan Cleary admitted the new State of Origin timeslot was “a little bit different and unique”.

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“It’s been good so far, and you obviously have a lot more time to spend together. I guess over the three weeks you’ll be able to build those combinations a bit more,” Cleary told Channel 9’s Sports Sunday.

“It’s probably been the best thing for me and the Penrith boys to come into this bubble amongst all this group and be surrounded by such good players.

“It’s a real good vibe up here and it’s made it easier to move on from the grand final disappointment. I’m enjoying the week so far and the build-up into game one.”

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