OPINION: Is Origin wrecking club footy?
Heading into the post-Origin period it's time to address the issue of the effect – if any – rugby league's toughest contest is having on the competition proper.
Without putting too fine a point on it, it’s fair to say last Monday night's Round 17 match between the Rabbitohs and Titans was not an outstanding game of rugby league. There were 26 errors and 24 penalties blown among only 24 points scored. It seemed like we went about 10 minutes without a completed set at one point.
Some sections of the media were quick to cry – especially on Twitter – that the contest had been ruined by the Origin period.
But can anyone really back that up? Yes, Greg Inglis and Ben Te’o were missing for the home side, while the Titans were without a large chunk of their forward pack with Nate Myles, Greg Bird and Dave Taylor out.
But let’s look at how the match unfolded. The worst offenders in terms of errors and penalties, were Sam Burgess, Adam Reynolds, Beau Falloon, Luke Bailey, Kirisome Auva’a, Luke Burgess, Issac Luke and Paul Carter. Those eight players gave away 18 penalties and produced 14 errors. That’s eight players who would have been playing regardless of who else was available – most of them rep players.
Compare that to the players who probably wouldn’t have been playing if the squads were full strength: Ben Lowe, Nathan Merritt, Cody Nelson, Mark Ioane and Tom Kingston. Those five players combined for just two errors and gave away no penalties at all.
So for those who want to argue Origin ruined this game as a contest, perhaps they could explain why the absence of Greg Inglis causes Sam Burgess to drop the ball three times, and why no Greg Bird means Beau Falloon suddenly gives away five penalties in a game?
Some perspective please people.