Origin toll 'takes years off careers' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Origin toll 'takes years off careers'

By Steve Jancetic 21/05/2008 06:27:24 AM Comments (0)

NSW coach Craig Bellamy has joined skipper Danny Buderus in calling for State of Origin to return as a stand alone fixture, claiming the strain being placed upon the game's elite players is stripping years off their careers.

Bellamy fears players will be forced into making the dash for the English Super League or even early retirement as a result of the physical toll they are forced to endure given the current schedule.

Not since 2001 have State of Origin games been played on a Sunday night when the NRL competition ground to a halt to showcase the biggest games of the year.

The Blues and Melbourne mentor no doubt had his Storm cap on as well as he called for the re-introduction of stand-alone Origin matches, after watching the reigning NRL premiers - minus nine representative players - go down to struggling St George Illawarra on Saturday night.

But Bellamy denied his motives were solely club based, citing a desire to keep the best players in the NRL and at their peak for a longer period.

"It's a huge ask for our elite players," Bellamy said.

"You see guys like Danny and Fitzy (Craig Fitzgibbon) in this team now - 18 months ago they were struggling.

"All of a sudden they haven't played the amount of footy they have in the years before, they haven't gone on the tours, Danny missed the 2006 Tri-series and all of a sudden they're back to what they were four or five years ago.

"I think there's a message there."

Stand-alone Origin matches would save clubs from fielding severely under-strength teams while also stopping the need for players to back up for club duty two or three days after an Origin match.

It would force the NRL to either cut the amount of NRL games, something the clubs wouldn't be happy about given they budget financially on 12 home games a year, or lead to a longer but less gruelling season.

Buderus admitted he was feeling more refreshed than in previous years, when he had been forced to play in excess of 30 games in a calendar year.

But at just 30 years of age he too joins the exodus for the friendlier confines of the Super League next year to take up a three-year deal with Leeds.

"I went (playing Origin matches and on Kangaroos tours) from 01-05 and it took its toll on me for a while," Buderus said.

"If players keep going like that it's going to be taxing on their body and they'll probably miss out on another few years on their career.

"It's a pretty hard gig, you get blokes playing origin and it's such an honour and then you have to back up 48 hours later. It's taxing on your body."

NRL chief executives are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday where they will discuss a proposal to increase the payments to representative players.

While it wouldn't do much to ease the physical burden placed upon players, Bellamy said the extra financial incentive may help keep players in the NRL.

"It (the physical toll) ends up costing them financially because it cuts one or two years off their career," he said.

"These guys that play origin, they play 24 real tough games, then probably their teams are in the semi-finals and then they go on tours at the end of the year, that's so hard on our elite players - those players get burnt out before their time.

Staging the game as a stand alone event would also no doubt boost flagging ticket sales with Sydney struggling to fill ANZ Stadium for Wednesday night's game.

Officials are still hopeful of reaching the 70,000 mark with Sydney fans warned they face losing the right to stage two Origin matches in the future unless attendances improve with Melbourne pushing hard to regularly host matches.

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