Origin schedule unlikely to change before 2018
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman John Grant says it is "very unlikely" the schedule for the Holden State of Origin series will change prior to the start of the next broadcast rights agreement in 2018.
With Queensland wrapping up the 2016 series on Wednesday night attention has now turned to the impact the series is having on NRL clubs with both North Queensland and South Sydney likely to be missing key playmakers for up to a month through injury.
Broncos forward Sam Thaiday will miss two NRL games due to suspension for a lifting tackle on Wednesday night and as has been the case for a number of years NRL teams have been forced to send out teams without their best players in an extremely tight Telstra Premiership.
From 2018 the Origin format will see the second match of each series played on a Sunday night as part of a dedicated round of representative football, significantly reducing the impact of players missing from the Telstra Premiership.
Next year two games will be played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for only the second time since 2011 but Grant all but ruled out the prospect of Game Two in Sydney being played on a Sunday night.
"We've been dealing with it for a very long time, that is always going to be a continuing concern but what we do know from 2018 on that it is a different format for State of Origin," Grant said when asked of the ongoing impact of Origin on NRL clubs.
"It won't take such a long time throughout the middle of the season, it will feature Sunday nights again which is fantastic, so I think we've configured ourselves much better for the future as part of the new broadcast agreement and we've got one more year before we get there.
"There is a lot of conversation about State of Origin because it's the big-game property and it's a wonderful, wonderful event and it's a global event.
"Next year there are two games here in Queensland and one game in New South Wales, the year after that we are contractually committed to one game in Melbourne and we'll see what happens after that.
"That's part of the obligation we've got to the rugby league community, to make sure that they can see from time to time the best football available."
When the new broadcast rights agreement takes hold in 2018 one match of the Origin series will be played in Melbourne and the NRL is continuing to explore other opportunities where rugby league's showpiece event can be staged.
A poor attendance for Game Three in Sydney on July 13 could put pressure on Sydney's ability to host two Origin matches a year in the future and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said that after the 2017 series a plan will be mapped out as to possible new markets in which to take the game.
"All of those things are in the mix," Greenberg said of future venues for Origin. "I think everyone knows that next year we are playing two Origin games here in Brisbane, after that though we need to give some serious consideration to what the cycle looks like over a five and 10-year period of where we play Origins.
"That's not just commercial but how we want to grow the game. To grow the game you take your biggest assets which are your players and take them into new markets.
"We're happy to explore all those things but we haven't landed on a position."