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Rugby league’s greatest battle deserves to be fought out in this country’s biggest sporting colosseum and next year it will be.

The NRL have announced that Game 2 of the 2015 State of Origin series will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It will be the first Origin game held at the venue since 1997.

NSW and Queensland graced the MCG turf three times during the '90s, with the inaugural 1994 game attracting 87,161 spectators.

The venue will also host the Four Nations meeting between Australia and England on November 2 later this year, as well as another Origin game in 2018.

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The last Origin game played in Melbourne was in 2012 at Etihad Stadium in front of more than 56,000 people.

Often dubbed the sporting capital of the world, Melbournians have a habit of voting with their feet. A total of seven State of Origin games have been held in the city, with an average crowd of more than 50,000 in attendance.

Rugby league fans in the southern state will be rejoicing, along with Storm skipper Cameron Smith.

You would have thought Smith had achieved all of his boyhood dreams during his storied career but today’s announcement was another coveted jewel.

“I have always said I wanted to run out onto the MCG even just for 15 minutes but hopefully this time next year I get to play a full 80,” said Smith.

“It was a bit of a dream … I’ve been a spectator here but I really can’t imagine what it will be like down on this ground with a capacity crowd.

“The sport is more popular than ever down here, particularly State of Origin. The kids are always talking about NSW versus Queensland and I could not see anything less than 95,00 here next year.”

The announcement comes at a time when the Origin series is at the peak of popularity.

Game I last week was the highest rating show on Australian television this year, with 4.058 million national viewers, making it the most watched series opener in Origin history.

Its popularity continues to grow throughout the southern state, with Game I attracting the biggest Victorian regional audience for a series opener.

Given it is often referred to as the sporting capital of the world, Monday's anouncement was perhaps the icing on the cake for NRL officials.

“We all know that Melbourne is sports mad and I know that the players will relish the prospect of playing here,” said NRL boss Dave Smith.

“The NRL is determined to grow rugby league around Australia and internationally.

“We believe events like these will attract more fans to the game and encourage more people to participate in rugby league.”

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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