State of Origin’s now seemingly annual tour to different locations will take it to Perth this weekend with the rugby league’s showpiece event heading to the left coast for the second time.
We’ve also seen eight games take place in Melbourne and one in Adelaide as rugby league looks to expand its horizons.
While taking the game away from its traditional stages might not sit well with some of the traditionalists, it is a chance to add some new eyeballs in an increasingly competitive marketplace, not to mention the desire to fill out the calendar on some of these new palatial stadiums.
Not to mention it makes sense for the powerbrokers to leverage one of, if not the most marketable assets at its disposal.
If they are serious about it, there will be no shortage of venues to take State of Origin games every year, even if these neutral site games may not quite have the same parochial buzz of Suncorp or Accor Stadium.
Given each series is a best of three it is an easy option to hold Game 1 or Game 2 at a neutral site every year or alternatively do what they did in 1987 and hold a fourth, unofficial State of Origin exhibition match.
So let’s take a look at some of the other places State of Origin could go in the coming years with borders opened up once again.
Just know that if we find out Origin is going to any of these venues down the track, we will be taking full credit for it.
Just about every capital city in Australia has hosted an Origin game, but not the capital city of the nation, how does that work?
GIO Stadium is not the most luxurious of venues, we’ll give them that, not to mention Canberra’s chilly climate in June/July but for a one off game it could work.
Technically it is in New South Wales territory which might lead to a bit of a home ground advantage for the Blues but at least it means that the 25000 seat venue should be filled out.
Plus, if the weather does turn, we could see Origin in the snow for the first time.
Taking State of Origin to regional Queensland worked out really well in 2021… for New South Wales.
With borders closed due to Covid, Game 1 was sent up to the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville, where the Blues knocked the Maroons out 50-6 like they were Les Walker at the Mad Cow.
Surely there would be no opposition then to sending a game to the tropics once again with BB Print Stadium in Mackay shaping up the next cab off the rank.
It might only hold 12000 people but the crowd will be just as vocal as one six times its size and best of all, it’s only an hour and a half away from Airlie Beach.
New Zealand has provided rugby league with many things, including plenty of players for the Maroons and Blues squads including Brad Thorn, Ben Te’o, Willie Mason, Tonie Carroll and James Tamou, so why not send a game back there?
If it was to be held at Auckland’s Eden Park, it would at least give Aussies a chance to see a local team record a win there, something that our Super Rugby sides and the Wallabies have struggled with of late.
Just like New Zealand, Fiji has supplied a number of players for State of Origin over the years including Lote Tuqiri, Petro Civoniceva, Akila Uate and Api Koroisau.
So why not send a game over to the Pacific Island?
After all it’s a shorter flight from Brisbane and Sydney to Suva than it is to Perth.
They love both codes of rugby with the National Stadium sold out for the Fijian Drua’s Super Rugby game earlier this year.
It’s fair to say that outside of Australia and New Zealand, the country with the biggest audience for rugby league is without a doubt England.
While we have joked many, many, many, many… many times about their athletic follies over the years, the English do love their sport and would surely get around this sort of game.
Even if they didn’t, there’s no shortage of Aussie ex-pats who would love to see an Origin game played at one of the many rectangular stadiums in London with two standout options being Wembley or Twickenham.
Perhaps the biggest question would come over the scheduling of the game, after all, you’re not flying the teams over for a single game in June, so perhaps we get a mid-season pause with the series playing a few games in England or possible elsewhere in the UK or Europe?
Maybe one of those venues for a second game could be Dublin, which is a hop, skip and a jump from London.
Rugby League is still a bit of a new concept for the Irish, with the 15-man code still the dominant version of the sport there.
However there has been a few exhibition matches played there and their national side has participated in the World Cup from time to time, recording wins over Italy and Wales.
You might be relying on some Aussies living in Europe to help fill out the crowd but if you’re in for a penny in the UK, you’re in for a pound.
Another nation where Rugby League is a bit more of a niche sport and you’re taking a game there with an eye on growing the game rather than capitalising on an existing interest.
But the French do have a side that has featured at every World Cup, something only Australia and New Zealand have done as well (because Great Britain split into four different competing nations).
This would technically signal a return to Los Angeles after the infamous 1987 exhibition in Long Beach.
However with the 2025 World Cup headed Stateside, a sample of the best the sport can offer would surely go a way to whet the appetite of the locals.
Hosting the game at the LA Coliseum or the gargantuan SoFi Stadium might be a touch optimistic (just look at LA Chargers games for what happens when it’s not filled to capacity), there are plenty of other venues on offer.
The standout candidate would be the MLS Stadium in Carson which is the home of the LA Galaxy and would surely be packed out with the right marketing plan.
If you’re considering LA, then New York might as well be given some consideration too.
It’s another option to promote the game in the US ahead of 2025 and there are plenty of options thanks to the MLS and NFL.
Let’s just ignore the fact that MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Jets and Giants is actually across the river and in New Jersey.
Both American stadiums would definitely need to roll out the natural grass for any Origin game though.
In terms of a time zone, Japan is a great option for an overseas Origin match with the option of both a midweek and weekend fixture depending on where it falls in the series.
Admittedly as a sport rugby league has not really taken off in Japan with union gaining more traction however they love their sport over there and could probably get behind the game as a one-off novelty.
Our final pitch for an alternate State of Origin venue is another place that has plenty of Australian transplants, Hong Kong.
Rugby union has taken Bledisloe Cup tests there to great success and the stadium is in a spectacular spot.