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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
5th of December 2007
THE Gold Coast Titans will today push for an under-20s component to the annual State of Origin series.
Titans managing director Michael Searle will suggest the innovation at the annual NRL conference, which opens today in the Hunter Valley.
Searle says the idea, from Titans chairman Paul Broughton, was an obvious extension of next year's inaugural under-20s competition.
"The big point of difference between our game and AFL and rugby union is that we now have a national youth comp where the best of the best are playing each other every week," he said.
"We think the natural progression from that would be to have a State of Origin series to link in with the senior State of Origin series.
"It would be Queensland v NSW, but at the under-20 level.
"We have had that before at an under-19 level, but not a full series. It would be great and would emphasise that point of difference between us and AFL and rugby.
"It would be the main curtainraiser for the three games and it is a concept that Paul Broughton has been working on for some time."
Searle said that, if agreed upon, the idea could take 12 months to implement, but would also serve another purpose -- deciding the eligibility of players for the senior State of Origin.
"It would remove some of the doubt over the classification of certain players," he said.
The Titans have two players, Shannon Walker and Will Matthews, who would have very strong claims for a start in an under-20 State of Origin series.
However Searle said both would probably line up for the Blues.
"Both played (NSW) country rugby league at an under-16 level and so for mine they are New South Welshman," he said.
"The winning state could then go on and play the (junior) Kiwis. It is an exciting concept and one we have been flicking about for some time."
Searle is undecided which way he will push in the 'day v night' grand final debate.
"On a personal level I have an opinion and it probably differs from what most people would think," he said.
"I am torn between the two. The grand final is a great spectacle at night and it gets a far broader audience, but I am also empathetic to the Queenslanders who love the final during the day.
"We do not get the Monday off so I understand the argument.
"I will listen to all arguments, but I don't think there is a right or wrong answer on this one."