Off the Wall

The Dragons coach, Wayne Bennett, is not the first to suggest the representative matches period be separated from the premiership, probably by having stand alone Origin weekends and perhaps an Anzac test weekend.

It needs to be said that some disruption to the premiership is inevitable. The question is - how can that be minimised?

And it is difficult to minimise it when the premiership draw is made well before the season starts.

This weekend the Broncos meet the Storm, just twenty four hours after the Anzac test in which both teams have strong representation.

When the draw was made last year, the Broncos had just missed the finals for the first time, and the full extent of the player loss from the salary cap scandal was not clear.

That can be the only possible justification for playing this game this weekend.

There are other teams adversely impacted by the test, and the city-country match.

And in just two weeks time there will be teams that will be affected by Origin selection.

Trying to juggle the draw so that disadvantages are minimised ends up being guess work as much as anything else. Who would have thought at the end of the 2010 season that the Broncos would be vying to lead the table after eight rounds or so?

The concept of standalone weekends for Origin matches has to be re-visited.

And the time to do so is during the negotiation of the next television rights agreement.

There are arguments for and against mid-week origin matches.

But the prospect of what three origin weekends would deliver in terms of marketing opportunities - and television audiences - is at least work looking at.

The great obstacle is that extending the season by three weeks will take the competition well into October, or it will have to start in February.

But is that going to make the "wear and tear" on players any worse than it already is?

This is a debate the independent commission should be promoting - if it ever gets in place to promote it!

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