The Courier-Mail

Big Mal likes new TV deal

- CHRIS GARRY

MAROONS coach Mal Meninga claims the NRL has got the complicate­d State of Origin scheduling exactly right.

Meninga said yesterday he was yet to sign a contract extension with the Queensland Rugby League but predicted he would be coach when the new Origin schedule begins in 2018.

The NRL and Channel 9 have listened to calls from players and coaches to alleviate the stress of the Origin period and have introduced a stand-alone Origin weekend.

The new $925 million freeto-air broadcast deal secured by the Nine Network sees the second game of every Origin series played on a Sunday.

It means players will have a seven-day break from NRL duties before and after Origin II. “It’s great,’’ Meninga said. ‘‘It’s got to favour the NRL clubs, one less game that they’re missing their players.

“From an Origin point of view, I’m happy with the scheduling.

‘‘Sunday night, stand-alone representa­tive weekend, I think that’s smart.”

The new deal also means there will also be only one split round with teams to play 24 games in 25 rounds, down from 26 rounds, while Monday night football has been scrapped in favour of Thursday night footy. WHAT THE NEW TV DEAL MEANS FOR FANS PAGES 12-13, 22, 59

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