Sunday Territorian

Give us a game

The NT hosting a State of Origin match makes more sense than SA


The NRL’s decision to give South Australia one of the greatest sporting spectacles is as baffling as it is a failure. State of Origin has no place in SA, a state that barely understand­s there is another code of footy with an oval ball.

A state that is Aussie Rules through and through.

The NRL’s ambition to grow league into a national game is commendabl­e and while there is a certain logic to taking the origin showpiece to its backyard to demonstrat­e how thrilling it can be, it puts at risk the devout fans who miss out.

The State of Origin series is built on the banter of mate versus mate, state versus state, a rivalry so ingrained in Queensland and NSW that, come three days and nights a year, stuffy boardroom suits are switched for the maroon or blue jerseys.

That spills over to the Northern Territory which is far more deserving of hosting an Origin game but has been overlooked.

The Territory’s passion for NRL was clearly on display at last month’s Broncos and Eels clash, with TIO transforme­d into a sea of blue and maroon.

In fact, the Territory’s passion for pretty much any sport is always on show, and that’s something the NRL should seriously consider when the topic of Origin host cities comes up again.

The NRL has admitted there will be thousands of empty seats at Wednesday night’s series opener in Adelaide – a sight rarely seen in Sydney, if ever in Brisbane.

If it insists on taking the game to “neutral” cities, Darwin should be at the top of the list.

Its sold-out crowd at last month’s NRL game proves it is neutral, with supporters divided. It would not be a quasi-Queensland game but a match played in a neutral city with a passionate crowd – and no empty seats.

But if the NRL insists on trying to tap into the southern states that have no affection for the Steeden then leave it to Queensland and NSW to fight it out.

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