Meninga welcomes Origin adjustment
He is yet to officially put pen to paper to coach Queensland in 2016 but Maroons coach Mal Meninga has thrown his support behind the revised Origin scheduling that will kick in with the new broadcast rights deal from 2018.
Under the new rights agreement with Channel Nine that will see four NRL games broadcast live each week from Thursday to Sunday, the second Origin match each year will be played on Sunday night as part of a dedicated representative weekend.
Although it will reduce the preparation time the Origin teams have ahead of potentially the series-deciding game, it will lessen the impact NRL clubs feel from having their best players not available for selection, a result Meninga described as a "win-win".
"From an Origin point of view, I'm happy with the scheduling. I think it's great. Sunday night, standalone representative weekend, I think that's smart. We'll adapt accordingly," said Meninga.
"We don't know the intricacies of it all but I'm assuming that all the players will be playing for their teams the weekend before the standalone weekend. That's a couple of days less preparation, so they've just got to be managed a bit smarter, as they do week-to-week.
"We'll probably have a bigger squad leading into Game One, just to cater for Game Two.
"My thoughts, I think it's great. It's got to favour the NRL clubs, one less game that they're missing their players. I think it's a fairer system.
"Having a shorter timeframe, one less week, and having them more available for the clubs, I think it's a bonus. It's a win-win situation."
In recent years under Meninga's leadership the Maroons have spent a day of their preparation before one game each series to visit a regional area of Queensland, an initiative he says will continue in 2018 beyond.
With greater access to live rugby league on free-to-air television in the next broadcast rights deal, Meninga believes the increased presence will give the game a sizeable boost at the grassroots level, particularly in regional areas.
"We need to broaden our participation rates and get our second-tier competition even stronger," Meninga said. "That's an important part and these new TV rights that have been negotiated with Channel Nine go some way towards that. It opens up our viewing audience a bit more particularly in the regional and rural areas.
"We need to have a look at our core people, which are the ones who play the game at the grassroots and get those coming through, offering opportunities to those so we can get more people playing the game."
Broncos CEO Paul White, who has coached in the Intrust Super coach and spent much of his professional life in regional areas of Queensland, said it was integral that funds from the new broadcast rights deal reach all areas of the game down to the very grassroots.
"It positions the game great but the thing I will say is that the game needs this money," White said.
"Unlike a lot of administrators I played and coached in the bush, I played at Queensland Cup, I coached Queensland Cup and now I'm involved in an NRL program but we've also got to have responsibility for the game as a whole.
"A number of clubs are struggling financially, in fact the vast majority of clubs are struggling financially and we won't have a product unless we get them up and all financially stable and viable.
"The money's a terrific number, but it's well needed and I think [NRL CEO] Dave Smith's comments that it secures the future of our game are well made but we all have a responsibility now to make sure that it gets to the areas that are in need in all areas of the game."