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Is a mid-week Nines tournament a way to make stand-alone Origin matches viable?

Former Warriors head coach Matt Elliott has proposed a mid-season Nines tournament as a way of making stand-alone State of Origin games a viable option.

Writing in this week's issue of Big League, Elliott believes a mid-week Nines tournament in a similar vein to cricket's Big Bash would provide the rugby league content broadcasters crave and reduce the influence that State of Origin fixtures have on the Telstra Premiership.

In the wake of Origin I NRL coaches who had players involved on Wednesday night will be anxiously awaiting news on whether they will be in a position to back up for their club sides and Elliott believes there is a solution.

"If you ask any of the NRL coaches who had high representation of players in Origin they'd tell you that the management of these guys during the series becomes an issue," Elliott says in the Round 12 issue of Big League.

"It impacts every training session and every player, even when the rep players are away in camp. 

"Some have suggested that clubs should rest Origin players when they come back. That's easy for the non-affected teams to say, but when you have your best players away for three games in a competition that's so close that two points can be the difference of being in the top four or out of the eight, it becomes an important issue.

"For the sake of the quality of the NRL both during this period and until the end of the season, along with not disadvantaging teams, Origin has to be a stand alone."

Rather than accepting lower quality games minus the game's biggest stars during the Origin period, Elliott said it is time to look at innovative alternatives such as a Nines tournament featuring four games a night from Monday to Thursday in the lead-up to an Origin game.

"This would allow the inclusion of veteran and retired players, up-and-coming players and innovative styles of commentary similar to the Twenty20 Big Bash," said Elliott, who also suggests a South Pacific Test series and international women's fixtures.

"This competition would run over a three-week period with a semi-final series on the Thursday evening prior to the last Origin (see Big League's Facebook page to read the entire article on this subject).

"I'm completely aware that these suggestions won't float everyone's boat. However, if the status quo is maintained, it's an open acceptance of having inferior quality games in the NRL."

The Round 12 issue of Big League is available now at newsagents and at the ground. Digital version also available at Zinio.

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