Meninga unfazed by plans for 2013 State-of-Origin series
IF Queensland State-of-Origin coach Mal Meninga was looking for extra motivation for next year's assault on eight consecutive series wins, he was given it on a plate yesterday.
New South Wales politicians, including premier Barry O'Farrell and sports minister Graham Annesley, looked like the cats that got the cream when they announced Sydney's ANZ Stadium would host two State-of-Origin matches next year.
The Blues were of course due to host two matches in this year's series, but NSW coach Ricky Stuart was furious that one of those went to Melbourne's Etihad Stadium as part of a lucrative deal with the Victorian Government.
It seems everyone assumed Queensland would host two of the three games next year, but the Australian Rugby League Commission unveiled a five-year schedule that will see each state host two games in a year twice, with the third game in the other year being held in Melbourne.
And instead of Queensland kicking off that cycle with two home games in 2013, a financial inducement paid by the NSW Goverment to the ARLC will see Sydney get two games next year.
By the smiles on the faces of O'Farrell and Annesley yesterday, it seemed they thought the schedule automatically meant the Blues would finally get back the Origin shield.
Annesley said, "The thing that makes Origin successful is the passion of the fans in New South Wales and Queensland. Before the Mexicans south of the border tried to hijack the series ... that was at risk.
"It's great to do over the Victorians and the Queenslanders."
They obviously haven't looked at the results during Queensland's all-conquering seven-series run.
If they had, they would see that in just two of the series were two games played at Suncorp Stadium.
New Blues coach Laurie Daley and captain Paul Gallen were much more circumspect.
Gallen said, "It doesn't matter if you're playing in the carpark or at ANZ (Stadium), if you don't prepare well and play well you won't win".
Meninga was also largely unconcerned, publicly at least.
"We were hoping for two games (in Queensland), but it's not going to be so we'll just get on with it," he said.
"The game should always come first. We'll just get on with it and try and do our best down there."
The ARLC also anounced the 'shoulder charge' would be banned from all competitions from 2013.
The Commission accepted the findings of a review which showed that while just 71 of 142,355 tackles in season 2012 in the NRL were classed as shoulder charges, they led to an unacceptable injury risk.