Sport

Qld should not have to pay to keep Origin games: Govt

2.50PM UPDATE: QUEENSLAND should not have to pay to keep State of Origin games at Suncorp, Sports Minister Steve Dickson said today.

Mr Dickson was commenting after the Australian Rugby League Commission announced that New South Wales would host two games in 2013.

The decision meant every series from 2013-2017 would be played in either one of the two states, with the exception of 2015 where one game of the three would be played in a neutral city.

"The Newman Government stood strong and continued to maintain that Queensland should not have to pay for something which is already ours," Mr Dickson said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

"This game is an institution in our state, it's where legends like Darren Lockyer and Artie Beetson were made and it must always remain the meeting place for generations of diehard supporters.

"It appears New South Wales has got out its chequebook to secure two games next year, but let's face it, after losing seven series straight, they're clearly grasping at straws to try to rebuild their game.

"Queenslanders will overcome this challenge, and go on to make it eight in a row next year.

"In the long term however, it's great that Queensland will still have the same number of games, and didn't lose out to the Victorians, who were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at securing a game every year."

Wally Lewis slams decision to rob Queensland of Origin game

LEAGUE legend Wally Lewis has blasted the decision to rob Queensland of a State of Origin match, saying it goes against the spirit of the game.

"Really you have to question why the decision has been made,'' Lewis told local ABC radio on the Sunshine Coast.

"The reason we first bought (the State of Origin) in was because you (NSW) keep using our players down there, stealing them and using them, now you keep using our turn when it comes to hosting a match.''

"I don't see the general Queensland rugby league public being too pleased about that at all.''

Sydney's ANZ Stadium will host two State of Origin matches next season after a decision to reverse the order and switch a game from Brisbane to Sydney.

The scheduling of Origin fixtures is one of the main items on the agenda at Tuesday's ARL Commission meeting but Fairfax Media has been told that NSW will be awarded two home matches next season and Queensland two the following year.

The move follows a concerted campaign by the Blues to switch the order of matches after the opening game of this year's series was shifted from Sydney to Melbourne.

Lewis said the decision was probably about money with NSW likely to have made a more attractive offer than Queensland which has blamed its debt problem for being unable to compete.

Lewis said it was unusual that Queensland did not see the tourism and economic spin-offs of fighting to keep the game here.

He said even Victoria - an AFL dominated state - realised that by hosting a game there were big benefits for the state.

"They regard it as being a real gold mine for them,'' Lewis said.

"They make so much money by having about 50,000 people at the stadium.''

Lewis said there was no doubt that the decision would give the NSW Blues team an advantage.

"It's always an advantage when you get to play as the home side,'' he said.

He said Queensland had a "pretty poor record'' at ANZ Stadium, only winning about 20% of the games there.

"It's probably been made for the financial bonus of rugby league particularly for the first year of the new controlling body.''

He said Queensland would not be looking to use the change as an excuse.

"I'm damn sure, having had a little to do with Mal and the team that they won't be using that (as an excuse)

"They will probably use it as a form of inspiration.''

New Blues coach Laurie Daley and his players are attempting to prevent Queensland from winning an eighth consecutive series.

Topics:  nsw blues, queensland maroons, rugby league, state of origin, wally lewis



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