NRL: Maroons a big tip from the 'heart'

By Laine Clark

Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons and team mates celebrate winning game three of the ARL State of Origin series in July 2013. Photo / Getty Images
Johnathan Thurston of the Maroons and team mates celebrate winning game three of the ARL State of Origin series in July 2013. Photo / Getty Images

Queensland is league's heartland and the Maroons may yet win 11 straight State of Origin titles, according to NRL chief executive Dave Smith.

So it only seems fitting that Queensland will launch in 2014 what NSW coach Laurie Daley has predicted may yet be the most frenetic interstate series seen to date.

Still, Smith could not guarantee whether the Sunshine State was in the running for the next NRL franchise.

Smith was suitably complimentary while in Brisbane to launch the countdown to the 100th Origin game - the 2014 series opener at Suncorp Stadium on May 28.

However, he raised eyebrows by claiming Queensland - home of reigning eight-time Origin champions - was the code's spiritual home.

"I think Queensland is the heartland of rugby league," he said.

"I am spending a lot more time up here now and a big part of my development plan relates to Queensland."

And in what is sure to further irk Blues fans, Smith believed there were no bounds to Queensland's Origin domination.

"I think this is the greatest Origin team that has ever existed," he said.

"I think they will be going for nine, 10 and 11 [series wins].

"And add the rule changes from this year in the premiership and I think this will be better than ever."

The introduction of the likes of quick taps and zero tackle 20m re-starts have ensured an NRL season start in fast-forward.

And Daley said the mind boggled when considering what impact that would have on the already express-paced Origin series.

Smith became silent when asked about any immediate expansion plans north of the Tweed River.

The issue reared its head recently after revelations that the financial plight of the Wests Tigers appeared to be at breaking point.

Bid outfits from Rockhampton, Ipswich and a second Brisbane franchise have been vocal about their NRL inclusion.

However, Smith reiterated that expansion would only be discussed at the end of the year with no extra teams expected to be unveiled under the current broadcast deal, which concludes in 2017.

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a5 at 24 Jul 2014 05:07:20 Processing Time: 331ms