Maroons to consult rival codes as Origin hits Perth in 2019
Queensland coach Kevin Walters plans to consult with leading Super Rugby and AFL clubs as he and NSW counterpart Brad Fittler already begin planning logistics around the 2019 standalone Origin in Perth.
Walters and Fittler toured Perth's $1.6 billion Optus Stadium on Tuesday to promote next year's historic clash, with the second game of next year's Holden State of Origin series to be held on West Australian soil for the first time.
Fittler had expressed reservations about a shortened seven-day preparation for this year's standalone Origin game in Sydney, but backed the return of the representative round in 2019 given the Blues' breakthrough win at ANZ Stadium this year.
As he has after previous Origin campaigns, Walters will draw on connections at New Zealand's Canterbury Crusaders and AFL powerhouse Collingwood among other outfits as part of his annual Maroons review.
With 4000km of travelling from the eastern seaboard to be added into next year's Origin II preparations, Walters plans to consult with the cross-code franchises more accustomed to playing and managing long-haul flights.
"We'll let the dust settle from Origin, there's still some time left in both the NRL and AFL seasons into the finals, but I'd like to spend some time with some AFL clubs and see how they do things and handle this trip, the way they go about it," Walters told NRL.com.
"It's all self-development stuff and about getting the best out of yourself and your preparation, which we need to keep doing."
Fittler remains wary of a departure from the usual 10 days lead-in to a Wednesday night Origin, but backed the slated twilight kick-off – to ensure a primetime TV slot for the Eastern Seaboard – to produce an entertaining contest.
"I spoke about it during this year's [series], I don't think you want to tinker too much because I think having the longer preparation adds to the quality of play," Fittler said.
"But given it's our week and we did it this year in Sydney it'll work fine and I think it'll be a great time.
"It's a first the time of the day it's going to be played.
"Because of the time difference, the players will get to play at 5.30 [AWST] which is going to be, hopefully if we get a decent patch of weather, it should be a little bit drier, maybe a little bit more open and a little bit more exciting."
With a capacity of 65,000 at Perth's new stadium, WA Tourism officials are hopeful around 20,000 fans would be made up of visitors from the eastern states travelling for the Origin clash.
Such a contingent could inject as much as $15 million into the state's economy, while Walters and Fittler backed the push for a Perth team's reintroduction to the top level for the first time since the Western Reds folded in 1998.
Expansion is a key element of the NRL's strategic plan but no moves will be made before the next broadcast deal is negotiated in 2023.
Walters declared a Perth-based franchise simply "makes sense" in rugby league's bid for a nationwide competition, while Fittler likened Origin's incursions into the WA market to similar moves into Victoria that led to the birth of the Melbourne Storm in 1998.
"We have to look at ways to increase our worth to the TV networks," Fittler said.
"That's just the way it is and with the time difference. it just works perfect.
"Kevvie was speaking last night about the great job Melbourne have done, starting at the top and filtering down back to the kids and they've got a real footprint in Melbourne now.
"Whatever they do I think everyone agrees it works, it's just about getting the model right and making it last long."