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Smith wary of Origin stand alone call

Australian captain Cameron Smith says the idea of stand alone weekends for rugby league's State Of Origin series is great in theory, but not in practice.
Smith wary of Origin stand alone call
by AAP

By Adrian Warren

SYDNEY, July 15 AAP - Australian captain Cameron Smith says the idea of stand alone weekends for rugby league's State Of Origin series is great in theory, but not in practice.

Smith on Monday differed with his club coach Craig Bellamy who said league should take a lesson from rugby union suspending the Super Rugby tournament in Australia during the Wallabies' three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions.

He also took issue with critics lamenting the playing standard in the NRL, insisting it had never been higher.

Queensland skipper Smith was concerned a move to a stand-alone period for the Origin series would make the season too long and he feared the possibility of player burnout if extra weeks were added.

Smith, like Bellamy, was a frustrated watcher as premiers Melbourne were thrashed 39-0 by the Bulldogs in Sunday's grand final rematch, played without any of both team's Origin representatives.

He agreed it wasn't a good look for the game but believed it was more of a scheduling issue, which had been pointed out when the draw first came out.

"It's a really strange one. I'm not too sure how that can happen," said Smith.

'But where are we going to put Origin so that players can play for their clubs every week?

"Stand alone weekends are a great idea, but already this year in a World Cup season, the final of the World Cup is on November 30.

"If you have stand alone State of Origins, do you want players finishing their season in December? I think it's a bit too long.

"I know its hurting our game at club level, but as far as player welfare and player burnout concern, I can't see adding a few extra weeks onto a season as a positive."

Smith was bullish about the playing standard in the NRL.

"For me, I think the standard of football is the best it's ever been," Smith said.

"The individual players' skill level and endurance is the best I've ever seen.

"The game is getting bigger and bigger every year."

Smith downplayed concerns about attendances and TV ratings for NRL games.

"There's always a concern every year around State of Origin because you're taking 34 of the best players out of the game," Smith said.

"You are taking them out of club action for eight weeks, so their crowds are always going to be down.

"The numbers are always going to be down, on TV because who wants to watch a team run out and get beaten 39-0?

"Its not a good look for our game, but how do we fix that?

"I'm not sure. It's not my job to fix that.

"It's up to the administration to have a look at that and come up with the best way..

"Do we reduce our rounds of football?

"I've said that for a couple of years now, but we've just signed a lucrative broadcast deal that says we can't do that."


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