By STEVE MASCORD
ON Sunday in Mudgee, a local newspaper journo asked Nate Myles if he expected to be named in the Queensland State of Origin side.
“I hope so mate, I hope so,” Myles replied. The Titan was being polite but the answer was laden with irony. Myles already knew he was in the side and everyone else in the room knew that he knew.
When the Queensland team was named on Monday, the Maroons were already in camp. Sunday’s Parramatta-Gold Coast game kicked off with Greg Bird knowing he would share a car back to Sydney that night with Jarryd Hayne and NSW assistant coach Matt Parish.
And yet he had the silly facade of a team being “read out” at 5.45pm.
It’s a sad indictment on the shrinking resources of the traditional media that there are no longer the resources at the disposal of editors to just send someone to the airport and sit there to record when members of an Origin team that hasn’t been named yet come and go. It wouldn’t be too hard.
It’s the club teams who suffer from all this. Their players have the unwanted distraction of already knowing they’re in a representative team when they go around on the weekend before selection – and Parramatta great Luke Burt hit the nail on the head on Sunday when he said the big fear in that situation was they wouldn’t “have a go”.
Origin has become so big that we accept any indignity it foists upon us. Phil Gould suggested on Sunday that rather than delay the naming of the team 24 hours, we cancel Monday Night Football in the week just passed.
How about we just don’t name the teams until the round is complete? How about the players finding out they’re in the team at the same time the rest of us do?
Club football pays the bills for rugby league. Players are paid by their clubs. The people involved in Origin will keep taking liberties if we let them. We seem to hold the interstate series in such awe that we are not willing to hold it to the same standards of procedural fairness that we expect from club football.
But tipping off players days before teams are officially named is a slight on clubs and an insult to our intelligence.
On a more positive note, Mudgee was a great success on Sunday.
If I’m honest, I’d say I hoped our competition had outgrown quaint country venues by now. You’d like to think a boutique ground that holds 10,000 would be appropriate only for pre-season games in 2013.
But that’s not the case, with sub-10,000 crowds still quite possible in Sydney. It puts you in mind of a word that was doing the rounds in the eighties – “rationalisation”. The idea was that there were too many clubs in Sydney and something had to be done.
Then came the Super League war and many of these ideas were discredited. But we’re back where we were then, in some ways.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK