State of Origin move 'unlikely' after NRL fans hit out over 'awful' spectacle

There are growing calls for State of Origin to move after the toll it is taking on club footy.

A proposal to switch State of Origin matches from Wednesday to a Monday night will come down to who blinks first – Channel 9 or the NRL. The host broadcaster will fight tooth and nail to keep Origin in its current midweek timeslot, particularly off the back of strong ratings for this month's series opener.

Game 1 in Sydney attracted the biggest audience since 2016, with 3.4m viewers tuning in to watch Queensland beat NSW. With the series on the line in Game 2, audience figures for Wednesday night's MCG showdown could surpass that figure.

Peter V'Landys watches on and Daly Cherry-Evans lines-up.
A proposal to switch State of Origin matches from Wednesday to a Monday appears 'unlikely', according to experts. (Getty Images)

While Channel 9 will block any attempt to tamper with a proven formula, including Daly Cherry-Evans' 6pm kick-off proposal, the NRL will listen to clubs' concerns over the impact Origin is having on the club competition. The controversy erupted on Saturday when fans labelled the Rabbitohs and Manly clash as an 'awful' spectacle without Origin stars playing.


There are fears the annual series is damaging the quality as Origin players struggle to back up for their clubs just two or three days later. Playing on a Monday would give stars an extra two days' recovery. ARLC chairman Peter V’landys is keeping his options open ahead of the next broadcast deal.

"Any good ideas will be considered,” V’landys told The Daily Telegraph. “This (switching to a Monday) has got some merit and should be in the mix when we’re next discussing the schedule."

That would put the NRL on a collision course with the Nine Network, which has exclusive rights to the Origin series. Asked who he thought would ultimately win a showdown between Nine and the NRL, veteran television analyst Steve Allen, from Pearman Media, told Yahoo Sport Australia: "In the short term, rights holders. Longer term, usually sporting bodies.

"But I think a change is unlikely from a programming reason. The modern-day ratings recipe is to have reality series programming Sunday/Monday/Tuesday. Such a move (moving Origin from Wednesday to Monday) would throw the spanner in the works. For Nine, it is good on a Wednesday for revenue and ratings boosts.

"But there's always a chance of change, especially with the competitive tensions between Foxtel and Nine. It could be another (Peter) V’Landys' intrigue move, without us knowing what the end game is."

Steve Molk, an analyst for the TV Blackbox website, also cast doubts over a scheduling change. He said: "Nine would possibly contemplate it as they've shifted games before. But they would only move it if it benefitted them and a Monday game doesn't make a lot of sense."

Queensland coach Billy Slater, who also works for Channel 9, is dead against a switch. "I think it works the way it is," he declared on the Billy Slater podcast. "The 10-day preparation allows for the quality of the game. If you reduce the preparation, you are risking reducing the quality of the performance."

Billy Slater during coaching.
Billy Slater (pictured) is against a change of scheduling for State of Origin.