The Origin Remains The Same

Brisbane, Newcastle and the Sydney Roosters will continue to do it tough during the State of Origin series after failing on Tuesday to have the 2004 National Rugby League season extended by a week.

The Broncos, Knights and Roosters were among six clubs to endorse a proposal to have next year's three Origin games treated as stand-alone matches on Sundays.

The radical change, requiring a shift from the popular mid-week time slot, would have freed Queensland's and NSW's elite players for all club games.

However, the proposal - under which all the NRL clubs would have received three byes instead of two - lost out 9-6 to clubs in favour of retaining the status quo.

Sydney Roosters chief executive Bernie Gurr also put forward a proposal to have the season reduced to 22 rounds with each club playing 11 home games, down from 12.

However, that proposal was also defeated.

"It's bad business not to have your best players for your clubs," Gurr said on Tuesday night.

"We're in no way wanting to deride Origin. By playing it alone it elevates it's status."

Newcastle chief executive Ken Conway was frustrated the bid to free his representative players for club matches had failed.

The Knights suffered more than anyone during the Origin series, drifting from fifth to ninth place on the ladder.

"I'm rather disappointed," Conway said.

"Those chief executives from the clubs that are copping a pounding every year by State of Origin voted for that option and those that don't, voted against it.

"I'm a very strong supporter and our club is a very strong supporter of State of Origin.

"The State of Origin, the way it is organised at the moment, is well and truly stacked against clubs that have marquee players."

Canberra chief executive Simon Hawkins was one of nine club bosses to vote against the extended season and said the likes of Brisbane, the Knights and the Roosters had to live with the demands of the representative season.

The three NRL heavyweights supplied the majority of Origin players this season.

"You just have to cop it," Hawkins said.

"It was us a few years ago, it's the Roosters now. The Broncos are always there."

NRL chief executive David Gallop, who will meet with several of the game's elite players tomorrow, said the league was aware of the demands on leading clubs.

"We're very conscious of the workload on the players," Gallop said.

"I have discussed it with leading players and they don't want the season to be any longer."

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