Bellamy backs annual Origin in Melbourne - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bellamy backs annual Origin in Melbourne

By Todd Balym 01/06/2009 04:10:12 PM Comments (0)

NSW coach Craig Bellamy wants an annual State of Origin game in Melbourne, but that may all change as Queensland gather more support among fans in the Victorian capital.

Both sides completed their final public appearance with a fans' breakfast in Federation Square on Monday, with NSW players going to the extraordinary length of remaining on the team bus until Queensland had left to avoid crossing paths with any Maroons.

As the anticipation builds for Wednesday's Origin opener at Etihad Stadium it was obvious who the crowd had come out to see.

With four Melbourne players, plus two ex-Storm teammates, in the Queensland side it is the Maroons who have the clear weight of support on the streets of the AFL-mad city.

Around 300 fans stood around in the cold morning air to meet the Queenslanders, but that crowd halved by the time the NSW side made their way onto the stage.

Even then the biggest applause was reserved for Bellamy, the only one with ties to the Melbourne public in the Blues side.

Bellamy says he wants Origin to return to Victoria every year and hopes it could eventually be staged at the MCG to attract a bigger crowd.

"One thing about Melbourne sport is they're very passionate and very parochial," Bellamy said.

"I think they should bring a game down here every year actually. Play one in Sydney, one in Brisbane and have one in neutral territory.

"I think it'd be a great idea and I'm sure in a couple of years if they did that we'd be playing at the cricket ground (MCG) and perhaps getting 80 or 90,000."

The clash at Etihad Stadium is not yet sold out but officials are hoping to go close to filling the 52,000 capacity arena.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga believes his side have the crowd support and wants the fans to turn Etihad into a Suncorp Stadium cauldron-like atmosphere.

"I think it's like a mini-Queensland here really," Meninga said.

"The last time we were here in 2006 the majority of the crowd were Queensland supporters and we really enjoyed it.

"Just coming out here now I can't see any blue jerseys, they're all Queensland.

"It will feel like Suncorp Stadium for us."

Skipper Darren Lockyer also believes the Victorian public will support the Maroons, simply because they share a hatred for NSW.

"I don't think Victorians hate NSW as much as we do but, just from talking to the public here, you get the impression they will be behind us on Wednesday night," he said.

"When we were here in '06, there were more people going for Queensland and hopefully it will be the same this time.

"It's something we might be able to use to our advantage."

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