National Rugby League CEO Andrew Abdo says State of Origin is vital and has an important place in the game’s calendar in the southern hemisphere but the international game, after COVID, is a sleeping monster for the sport.
Speaking to NRL.com, Abdo was confident the incoming Pacific Championships would be the great reset rugby league needed.
“State of Origin is special, it’s unique, it’s a rivalry like none other but it is defined and has criteria in terms of who can represent New South Wales and Queensland and those are quite strict and tight criteria,” Abdo said.
“The international game is an opportunity for all players, not just NRL and NLW players, but any eligible player to represent their country.
“When you speak to some of the former players that played a few decades ago where there was a tradition of touring and playing international fixtures on a more consistent basis, they talk very fondly of three things.
“One is the pride in wearing the jumper, whether it’s Kangaroos, Samoa or Tonga.
“Two is the experiences that those matches had for them, the friends they made and the opportunity to play in different countries and stadiums.
“And three, the camaraderie or relationships that they shared with the players from other teams.”
Australia host Samoa this Saturday night in Townsville before Papua New Guinea clash with the Cook Islands on Sunday in Port Moresby.