Players blocks Origin schedule change

Written By Unknown on Senin, 02 Desember 2013 | 23.41

Queensland celebrate their State of Origin win after beating the NSW Blues in Game 3 at ANZ Stadium. Source: News Limited

PLAYER power has ruled supreme with the game's elite rejecting moves to shorten the 2014 State of Origin schedule because of concerns about their physical and mental well-being.

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg wanted to reduce the length of the Origin series for 2014 but hit a brick wall when he put the proposal to the Rugby League Players Association.

Fear of a physical and psychological burnout by reducing the gap between each Origin game by one week forced the NRL to abandon any plans to change the formula for next season.

"It was the players themselves that came back to us and said we preferred the current model in terms of the eight-week window rather than condensing it down," NRL general manager of football operations Nathan McGuirk said.

A dejected Mitchell Pearce after NSW lose Game 3 of the 2013 series. Source: News Limited

"The players were concerned about the quick back up within camps by reducing that time period.

"We heeded those calls and we said we will happily sit down with players during this season and try and work on what options are available that meet their needs."

RLPA chief executive David Garnsey said players were keen to consider other scheduling options but were never given the chance to enter into a proper discussion.

"Having consulted with the Origin players their concerns about reducing the Origin period centred on the physical and psychological toll taken by State of Origin football and the inadequate recovery time that would result from a condensed Series schedule," Garnsey said.

"But even with those concerns the proposed schedule change was not rejected out-of-hand, rather we proposed a 'round table' discussion involving all stakeholders that would consider Origin scheduling options and address the Players' issues.

"We're not aware what the reaction was from other parties (broadcasters, clubs etc) but in any event the NRL opted to shelve the idea for 2014."

The NRL yesterday confirmed the Origin dates for 2014 starting with Game One in Brisbane on May 28, with Game Two in Sydney on June 18 and Game Three in Brisbane on July 9.

The series will be identical in length to 2013 and run over six weeks and affect eight NRL competition rounds.

Josh Dugan in action for the NSW Blues in Game 3 of the 2013 Origin series. Source: News Limited

Player burnout had been a hot topic of discussion this year with NRL coaches furious at Origin impacting on one third of the regular season but also wary about player workloads.

As it stands the 2014 NRL schedule will be released just a few hours after Australia's World Cup team returns to the country.

The Test stars will not resume club duties until January, but will be back on the playing field by February for the new Auckland Nines tournament just 11 weeks after the World Cup final.

Maroons coach Mal Meninga agreed the competition schedule was too exhausting for the players and needed to be addressed.

"It's something the game needs to look at closely, it needs to be rectified and we need to come up with a plan about player welfare and the amount of games they play in the scheduling," Meninga said.

Queensland fans are urged to purchase memberships for priority access to next year's Origin games while tickets for the Sydney clash go on sale to the general public later this week.

Meninga said the Maroons were still concluding their planning for 2014 but with Queensland hosting two games for the first time since 2011 he knows they need to start the series firing.

"Game one is really important. It is every season but this year we have two at home and they (NSW) will be really working hard on getting game one and being successful up here that's for sure," he said.

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