Hoffman calls for Origin 'triple play'

Exhausted Storm and NSW second-rower Ryan Hoffman has called on the NRL to throw future premiership seasons into a three-week holding pattern to accommodate the increasingly grueling annual State of Origin series.

Hoffman was involved in a fierce Game One last week that notched up a significant casualty list, including star teammates Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater.

Cronk will miss at least the next two months with a broken arm while Slater is at least a fortnight away after spraining his AC joint in the Maroons' 12-8 defeat.

With many players, including Hoffman, having to front up for club duty as little as 48 hours after the Origin battle a growing chorus are demanding the league consider changes to the punishing schedule.

The 30-year-old certainly had his suggestion on what should be done.

“This is only my opinion but I’d like to see the competition put on a three-week break and play the State of Origin one after another,” said Hoffman.

“I know a few of the players express how hard it is backing up, especially since that was the hardest game I’ve ever played last Wednesday night.
 
“We saw a few guys not being able to play (on the weekend) due to soreness. I think a few players agree that we need to do something about it around Origin time.”

Storm skipper Cameron Smith made a shock return to the field against the Cowboys on Saturday night despite being initially ruled out for up to two weeks with an ankle sprain.

Smith, who conceded coach Craig Bellamy needed some convincing he was fit to play, says the task to back up is a demanding but necessary one.

“It is pretty hard to back up on weekends but you always want to put your hand up for your club,” said the Storm skipper.

“Your main priority is to be available for your club on the weekends because at the end of the day your main priority is to win a premiership for your teammates and your fans and your sponsors.”

Smith conceded the schedule needed to be looked at.

“Every year we always have this issue of players being injured and fans saying the quality of the games decreases because of injuries and fatigue,” he said.

“We have an important meeting with the NRL coming up with the players association soon, so I am sure that will be addressed then.”

However, NRL boss Dave Smith, when asked if consideration would be given to Hoffman’s proposal hinted that such a suggestion would remain on the drawing board for now.

“There are no plans to consider whatsoever putting the competition on hold,” said Smith.

“At the end of the day it is a contact sport so inevitably there will be injuries… The format of Origin is extremely successful and will continue to be successful.”