Stephen Moore of the Brumbies powers through the Sunwolves.
Stephen Moore of the Brumbies powers through the Sunwolves. DAVID MOIR

Wallabies skipper backs Origin concept for rugby

WALLABIES captain Stephen Moore has thrown his support behind a rugby State of Origin match in June, saying he wants to play and other Aussie stars would feel the same way.

An Origin clash between NSW and Queensland-bred rugby stars was proposed late last year via new QRU boss Richard Barker as a way to generate new content for Australian rugby.

Rugby's Origin would be a potentially mouth-watering event involving Israel Folau, David Pocock and Sean McMahon playing for the Queensland side, and George Smith, Reece Hodge and Scott Sio returning to their sky-blue roots.

The game would likely be played at the QRU-owned Ballymore in Brisbane and the date has already been pencilled in as Thursday, June 29.

This is a free week because the Wallabies finish their Test series against Scotland on June 24 but Super Rugby doesn't begin again until the following week.

Barker will give a presentation on rugby Origin to Super Rugby bosses and ARU executives on Friday, with all the powerbrokers in town for the Brisbane Tens.

More than 75% of Australian professional rugby players come from Queensland or NSW but to get off the ground, rugby Origin would need the backing of all Australian franchises, the ARU, Michael Cheika and the players' union.

Moore is a willing advocate.

"You only have to talk to people, be it fans or your mates or whatever, and they seem to be really positive about it, and for it. That's a good snapshot of what people in Australia might think," Moore said.

"It is another different form of content for rugby in Australia beside the Super Rugby and the Test matches, and you've seen the popularity of sevens - people like having that variety in the way the game is offered.

"To have something that is just ours, in Australia - and we have observed that in rugby league - it is something that creates excellent rivalry and tribalism and interest. It is well worth pushing ahead with."

Logistics, eligibility criteria, team names and commercial models would need to be worked out.

But many, including Moore, feel the success of rugby Origin would hinge on whether all Wallabies stars are allowed to play.

Super Rugby coaches may be reticent, particular if finals chances rely on results in July. But with Australian rugby shackled by SANZAAR politics, struggling financially and diving in the popularity stakes, innovation is vital for the code's long-term health.

"I would absolutely be willing to play. I think it would be a great concept," Moore said.

"It is something that would be appealing to the fans out there, and I know the players would be keen to look at something like that."

Waratahs chief executive Andrew Hore said he'd been in talks with Barker and while very supportive of creating new products, rugby Origin was just one option.

"One, we are committed to Super Rugby and improving that, and two, we generally do feel there is not enough content for domestic rugby at a professional level. There is room for more content," Hore said.

"Our view is very clear, we need to make this a fan-centred model and feel there needs to be more work done on what tournaments and/or one-off games would appeal to the public. It may be that it is a State of Origin but we have also talked about other concepts."

Hore said alternative ideas - which could tested with fans via research companies - could include a Big Bash-style men's and women's Tens competition that ran alongside the Wallabies' Test winter.

The Tahs boss also proposed an Anzac XV taking on a team from the British Isles competitions, made up of players not picked for Test duties and voted in by fans based on form in Super Rugby and comps in UK and Ireland.

"We need to have discussions and about what will the content be, and what will inspire and motivate people to get involved. Obviously Big Bash has done that," Hore said.

"An Origin game is part of a smorgasbord of things we can be looking at."


QUEENSLAND: Israel Folau, Izzy Perese, Tevita Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi, Karmichael Hunt, Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby, Scott Higginbotham, David Pocock, Sean McMahon, Rob Simmons, Blake Enever, James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Daley. Reserves (from): James Hanson, Sef Fa'agase, Angus Cottrell, Izack Rodda, Jarrad Butler, Matt Lucas, Bryce Hegarty, Jono Lance, Campbell Magnay, Luke Morahan, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Aidan Toua.

NSW: Andrew Kellaway, Rob Horne, Bill Meakes, Reece Hodge, Tom English, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, George Smith, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Kane Douglas, Rory Arnold, Tom Robertson, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio. Reserves (from): Tolu Latu, Ben Alexander, Allan Alaalatoa, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Ben McCalman, Jed Holloway, Sam Carter, Leroy Houston, Nick Stirzaker, Mitch Inman, Cam Clark, Jack Debrecenzi.

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