In a significant move towards restructuring the State of Origin series, the NRL has decided to trim down the duration of camps to merely seven days. The decision has been taken to lessen the burden on teams that contribute leading players to the series.
To detail, the NRL has signalled to club directors that the build-up to next year’s series for star players like Nathan Cleary, Latrell Mitchell and Payne Haas of NSW, as well as their Queensland counterparts Reece Walsh, Cameron Munster, and Harry Grant, should be abbreviated.
Historically, Origin camps would last up to ten days, with players being allowed to leave as early as the preceding Sunday night for a match scheduled for the following Wednesday week.
This arrangement, however, was proven to be a major source of annoyance for several club chiefs, as they were of the view that players did not require to participate in such excessively lengthy camps, particularly when the initial two days were largely occupied by promotional duties and team bonding exercises involving only light training.
On the condition of remaining anonymous as public discussion about the meeting was prohibited, several club CEOs revealed that the NRL expressed in a Wednesday meeting its intention to alter the system for the 2024 series, primarily aiming to confine players’ time in camp to just one week.
This implies that both Brad Fittler and Billy Slater, who are still expecting to be re-appointed to their respective positions as state coaches next year, will need to make a speedy start once players arrive at the camp, provided they continue in their current roles.
On Thursday, an NRL spokesperson mentioned, “Clubs have requested the shortening of Origin camps. We are consulting with all stakeholders and the Commission will consider the issue at the end of the season.”
These changes follow Sydney’s South Rabbitohs losing Latrell Mitchell for almost three months after he injured his calf during the preparation for the first game in Adelaide. In a similar vein, Manly Sea Eagles‘ Tom Trbojevic was declared out for the season following a pec tear in game two.
Sea Eagles‘ attempts to appoint an appropriate replacement for Trbojevic proved futile despite the provision of salary cap dispensation, which contributed towards Manly’s fading hopes for the finals in the concluding month of the season.
In response to this announcement, Bruce Hatcher, Queensland Rugby League Chairman, said, “I’m perplexed: we have an agreement to run Origin and we weren’t at a meeting which appears to have changed the manner in which the competition is conducted.”
Hatcher has consistently promoted the value of extended Origin camps, which offer players the opportunity to engage in community visits throughout regional Queensland.
Notwithstanding the pressure from clubs for a tighter series duration to decrease its impact on the NRL season, next year’s Origin schedule will continue having games on Wednesday nights three weeks apart. However, there are considerations in place to shorten the timeframe between games for the 2025 series.
Any suggestions affecting the Origin schedule would need to be communicated to Nine Entertainment Co, the publisher of this news piece.
Returning to Melbourne next year, the other Origin fixtures will be hosted in Sydney and Brisbane.