Meninga brushes Hasler Origin concerns
Queensland coach Mal Meninga has brushed comments from Bulldogs coach Des Hasler that the current Origin scheduling needs to be changed, saying those who complain have not yet been able to come up with a better solution.
Hasler blasted the performance of his own team following their 28-14 loss to the Titans on the Gold Coast on Sunday before turning his attention to the Origin scheduling, which pulls out 34 of the game's elite players for three weekends a year.
The absence of those players is partially offset by reduced scheduling in three major bye rounds each year, with heavily affected clubs like Brisbane, North Queensland and Melbourne usually only required to play one game per year when their Origin stars are unavailable.
Hasler criticised the status quo but at an Origin coaches press conference at the MCG on Monday Meninga insisted the current scheduling is fine.
"Personally I think the schedule is great," Meninga said when asked to respond to Hasler's comments.
"For people to criticise it; come up with a solution, there has been no solutions yet have there? This is the best scenario as our competition stands at the moment, I have no problems with it all at the moment.
"It's okay to have an opinion and criticise the current status quo but let's come up with a solution, people have tried but you just can't do it at the moment."
There have been some suggestions to move Origin to standalone weekends but this raises its own problems, not least of all the creation of three weekends in-season when no NRL games would be played.
Blues mentor Laurie Daley agreed it's a difficult one but added it's not for him to worry about.
"I am sure it's something that will be looked at, at times you can understand the frustration of coaches because they are trying to win games of footy but that's not what I'm here for, I'm preparing for State of Origin," he said.
Addressing media afterwards, NRL CEO Dave Smith said there would never be a "perfect" solution but added the game needed to be very careful about tinkering with its premium product.
"There's never a way to please everybody in the game of rugby league. There are lots of different opinions and lots of different views. What you'll find is no one opinion is perfect," he said.
"The fact of the matter is there's been lots of people talking about the format of Origin for two decades and as the coaches said on the stage there, there's no perfect solution. What I can tell you though is over four million people are going to watch the game, we're going to have a very very big crowd.
"It is the jewel in our crown and you tinker with the jewel in your crown at your peril. It's not to say you don't look at it but I think to be critical of it – it's so significant in our portfolio the way the game is structured, you'd have to be very careful if you touched it."