ORIGIN is dead.
They said it in 1995, when NSW finally caught up with Queensland as a modern interstate force.
Then Fatty’s Nuffies revived the contest and the concept.
They said it in the early 2000s, when Andrew Johns was treating the arena like his own personal playground.
Then along came the greatest Maroons era ever seen.
So now, aside from Todd Greenberg standing there with the paddles to keep the heartbeat of broadcasting and marketing cash, it’s over.
While ever NSW play the role of Washington Generals in the big moments, fans and sponsors will start looking elsewhere.
Remarkable, considering the original Origin concept was undermined by a belief Queensland simply could not be competitive enough.
Origin is dead.
NSW just “don’t get it”, according to Johns, and there are a generation of young men and women who have no idea what it was like when the Blues did.
Wednesday night’s loss at Suncorp Stadium stands apart from any other series loss, simply because NSW had all the ability in the world to win, after dominating the vast majority of games one and two.
And yet here we are.
Origin is dead. Or is it?
The women's interstate challenge presents a massive opportunity for the NSW team to begin their own era of dominance.
It took 18 years for South Coast talent Kezie Apps, Ruan Sims and Sam Bremner and the NSW team to break Queensland’s stranglehold on the interstate content. A watershed moment.
What if we, as a state, a region and a city, had faith in the NSW women’s team to deliver some justice, even if rugby league is yet to embrace the female game.
Women’s sport has made huge strides in recent times.
Cricket, soccer and Australian football have all become market leaders in the women’s game.
While we’ve seen the remarkable success of the AFL Women’s competition, rugby league is making smaller strides, though the World Cup later this year is a step in the right direction.
The demand is there for a truly national women's leagues. The crowds will come. The flow-on effect can be seen, with South Coast players like Kate Stanton and Maddy Collier on the national stage. And the ripple effect it has on the sport, especially when the Wollongong Saints are unbeaten in the AFL Sydney competition and their player numbers sky-rocket towards establishing a second team.
Women’s sport is booming, regardless of how much the dinosaurs still dismiss it.
So now, as a curtain-raiser to St George Illawarra’s vital clash with Manly at WIN Stadium, NSW are out to build their own empire.
One the blokes are incapable of achieving.
If you’re not there as a Dragons or Sea Eagles fan, take the NSW jumper out of the bin you threw it into on Wednesday and wear it with pride on Sunday week.
A NSW victory for the women would mean the Blues have won every representative division, except of course, the one the fanbase has always cared about.
Has it dawned on anyone that rugby league’s great cash cow might not always provide?
Probably not, given those in the corridors of power are too busy arguing about who controls the game.
At some point there needs to be some foresight, about more games in the heartland and regional areas, to re-engage the fans, even if it means blowing up the current revenue models.
Or expanding the game into new markets in the same time, because the game needs to attract new revenue streams.
Fans can’t just be expected to put up with exorbitant Origin ticket prices and sub-standard NSW campaigns.
- INTER-STATE CHALLENGE
Sunday, July 23
NSW v QUEENSLAND
WIN Stadium (11.45am)
TV: Live on Fox Sports