Melbourne set to host standalone State of Origin 2018 game

Midweek State of Origin fixtures could be a thing of the past if next year's Sunday match in Melbourne is successful. Photo / Getty Images.
Midweek State of Origin fixtures could be a thing of the past if next year's Sunday match in Melbourne is successful. Photo / Getty Images.

Melbourne is set to host a historic first ever State of Origin game to be held on a standalone weekend, according to reports from Australian media.

The Herald Sun is reporting that the NRL will announce that Origin II will be held on a Sunday, with the venue of choice likely to be the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a stadium that can hold over 100,000 people.

The NRL will enforce a bye weekend that weekend, with all NRL games put on hold to accommodate the game, while the fixture may coincide with a general bye in the AFL to make the match at the MCG more feasible.

The last time the Victorian capital hosted an Origin match was in 2015 - the eighth time the spectacle has been hosted in Melbourne since 1990 - when over 91,000 people attended the match at the MCG.

"With regards to State of Origin, we are excited to be returning to Melbourne and we are working closely with the Victorian Government to finalise details over the coming months," an NRL spokesperson told the Herald Sun.

The standalone weekend means that next year's NRL season is expected to be slashed from 26 home-and-away rounds to 25.

The prospect of having State of Origin fixtures held on the weekend while NRL clubs are forced to have a bye should be of concern for the Warriors, who usually enjoy a winning streak during the State of Origin period each season, thanks to few of their own players receiving call ups to Queensland or New South Wales, while NRL clubs across Australia suffer from depleted squads and lose momentum in the middle of their seasons.

That could all change if Melbourne's standalone fixture next year becomes a regular one.

- NZ Herald

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