State of Origin could be coming to NZ

Blues captain Paul Gallen leads his team onto the field during game three of last year's State of Origin series. Photo / Getty Images.
Blues captain Paul Gallen leads his team onto the field during game three of last year's State of Origin series. Photo / Getty Images.

The State of Origin could be coming to New Zealand, following reports yesterday that the NRL is preparing to sell one State of Origin fixture each year to a venue outside NSW and Queensland to cash in on the code's showpiece.

The Daily Telegraph revealed that the move, flagged by NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg, could see games played in New Zealand, which attracted 200,000 fans during the Auckland Nines over the past three years, or Perth.

Queensland will receive two home games next season but from 2018 the NRL will broker a new Origin schedule that will see other markets enter the equation.

State of Origin has been played overseas once, when NSW and Queensland played an exhibition game in America in 1987. However, Mr Greenberg said the time had come to investigate NZ's ability to host an Origin game.

"In simple terms, we will now have to look at where we play Origin content in the next five to 10 years and we are looking at a range of different markets. I can assure you New Zealand will be one of those," he told the Telegraph.

"The people of New Zealand are a significant part of our supporter base and also our talent pathway and we never take that for granted."

Maroons skipper Cameron Smith has backed moves for State of Origin to be played overseas, but cautioned against it being an annual event.

The record interstate crowd of 91,513 that filled the MCG last year has convinced the Test captain that Auckland's 60,000-capacity Eden Park is ready to host an Origin match.

"Origin engulfs everyone, it's become a monster," Smith told the Telegraph. "I have family in Western Australia and Origin is huge in New Zealand.

"The Kiwi boys in my team at Melbourne (including Jesse Bromwich, Kevin Proctor and Tohu Harris) love Origin and the Kiwi fans would go nuts over there.

"I think if we step outside of Queensland and NSW, it shouldn't happen annually. We have the three-year rotation with Melbourne and that has worked, we've had ground records at Etihad Stadium and the MCG.

"It's proof we have an unbelievable product, but we have to remember it is State of Origin, it's NSW versus Queensland."

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