Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is keeping an open mind on plans for a rugby union State of Origin but says it won’t work if it’s just a direct copy of the NRL showpiece.
Negotiations are continuing this week on the ‘State of Union’ idea with all Australian rugby powerbrokers in Brisbane ahead of the inaugural Global Rugby Tens.
Queensland Rugby Union chief executive Richard Barker first proposed the concept last year as a way to generate fresh domestic rugby content, with the match already pencilled in at Ballymore Stadium for Thursday, June 29 – the week after Australia’s third and final Test match of the June window, and the week before Super Rugby resumes.
Most players are supportive and Cheika has given his tentative backing, but said it would have to be a meaningful contest for it to work.
“What’s important is if we do something like that, it’s got to have a uniqueness about it,” he said.
“We can’t just go and copy off rugby league and see if that works – we’ve got to have something about why it would be a special event, and not just sticking another game in the calendar.
“A fixture like that to be successful has to be taken really seriously so the timing will decide how seriously it’s taken.
“I know it (won’t) happen this year, but you think it’d be nice in the week before the Tests.
“Then there’s some real stakes to play for, because you’ve got selection opportunities available, and that would be a really interesting scenario.”
More than three quarters of Australian rugby players are from Queensland or NSW, and the prospect of seeing players like Israel Folau represent their home state again would be an exciting hook for fans and TV networks.
“They’ve obviously got an idea of how they want to do it,” Cheika said.
“Once they get their idea together – and that’s what we need to do, we need to have more ideas to get more interesting stuff happening with rugby – then we’ll take a look at it and see what happens.”