Coach's Box: Monday night Origin is a winner
Monday night Origin ticks all the boxes and could even prove a right royal marketing coup.
Imagine attending an Origin match at Suncorp Stadium next year on the Queen's Birthday public holiday Monday and who do you see in a private box alongside 'King' Wally Lewis and the 'Sultan of Suncorp' Darren Lockyer? ... None other than Prince William and/or Prince Harry.
Yes, I am serious ... and it is not that unrealistic. When I was in England, a member of the Royal family (other than the Queen or Prince Charles) would attend the Challenge Cup rugby league final and present the trophy.
So why not try to have a royal special guest attend one of the greatest sporting spectacles in this country on the Queen's Birthday public holiday? It would be very fitting.
Royalty aside (I will now leave that to the marketing gurus which I am not), Monday night Origin is a winner for everyone involved in the game from marketing, to television, the fans and, most importantly, the players.
For the players, Monday night Origin means more recovery time. Under the current format, some players have to back up two days later on a Friday night; while a Monday night Origin would give players a minimum four-day break.
With Test matches it's different because those games are always played on a Friday night, so some players back up the next day, which they don't mind. It's two days later that players find it tougher to back up because that is when DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) kicks in.
I am not so sure about suggestions of a stand-alone Origin format. Ever since Origin players have been backing up, no team has missed the eight as a result - or none has used it as an excuse.
Coaches do their calculations and generally would be happy to take a 50-50 win-loss record during that time. A coach would cop that if he lost five players to Origin ... it means you have five quality Origin players!
For the marketing of the game, a Monday night Origin would allow packaging of a triple treat weekend of matches - for example, two Brisbane/Gold Coast matches and an Origin match at Suncorp Stadium; or two Sydney home games along with Origin at ANZ Stadium.
It would probably help the club teams as well, who can sometimes find it harder to attract crowds to matches when their Origin stars are missing.
For television, many fans are already used to watching Monday night football, so nothing would be lost televising the game on a Monday instead of a Wednesday.
And leading into the NRL's new TV rights deal, it is a perfect time to make a change. Monday night or Wednesday night, the game is still going to be a spectacle. Origin won't lose out.
For the fans, a Monday night Origin makes for a long weekend. It's harder to organise that with a Wednesday night game. The NRL tried to make that work after the first Origin this year, scheduling the double-header in Brisbane on the following Friday night.
It's a great idea but it would work better over a weekend leading into a Monday night Origin.
Royals or no royals, Origin will not lose any of its flavour on a Monday night.