It's all about the money
HE WILL hate to be reminded, but back in 1995 when John Ribot was blowing the trumpet of Super League, he told those who would listen that properly promoted, rugby league would become huge throughout Europe and Asia.
Whether Ribot actually believed it would happen is problematical, but the game is no closer to capturing the imagination of those billions than I am of breaking par at my local golf club.
And, despite the outstanding success of the Melbourne Storm - ironically established by Ribot in his post-Super League life - I also doubt whether the game will ever capture the hearts of Victorians.
The Storm drew 20,000 to their Anzac Day clash with the Warriors - their biggest crowd of the season. But next door, at the MCG, almost 90,000 watched Collingwood play Essendon ... in the rain.
For that very reason I am not in favour of Melbourne hosting an annual State of Origin clash, something the Victorian Government is lobbying. And staging an Origin match in Melbourne is not about growing the game, either. The decision is dollar related, pure and simple.
State of Origin is first and foremost a television event, so it probably doesn't matter where it is held. Only a smidgen of those who watch the games each year are lucky enough to score a ticket.
I note that Ricky Stuart has blown up deluxe about the first match in the upcoming series being played in Melbourne when it is - technically - a NSW home game. And with the Blues having lost the past six series, I don't blame their coach for wanting every possible advantage.
Maybe the answer is to have one match apiece played on home soil, and the third at a neutral venue, which could still be Melbourne every now and again. It could also be Perth, Auckland, London, Hong Kong, Paris or Tokyo.
What's gone wrong
Three seasons ago Jarrod Hayne was the most decorated player in rugby league. Now he is the most analysed.
While it is difficult to know whether last Sunday's City-County clash made selections any more clear-cut for Blues coach Ricky Stuart, the performance of Hayne was a stand-out. He had a shocker and his indifference ridiculed match-eve comments from Brad Fittler that he should be the Test five-eighth.
On his form for City and for the Eels in 2012 - bar maybe two games - he does not deserve to be an Origin player in the upcoming series. But he probably will make the side somewhere, because of his reputation and his undisputed class.
To me, Jarryd Hayne is a victim of too much advice. And if he continues to listen to those who think they know what is best for him, his brain will be even more scrambled than it appears to be at the moment.
Hayne needs to find someone whose opinion he respects - possibly former Eels great Peter Sterling - sit down and discuss what he needs to do, and get on with playing footy. If not, a wonderful talent could become another also-ran.
Burns could be perfect
Travis Burns will possibly never get to wear a Queensland State of Origin jersey, but I reckon he could be the (italics) perfect fit for the Maroons bench in the coming series.
Last weekend Mal Meninga laid down his blueprint for the textbook interchange Mr Fix-It to replace Cooper Cronk, who has filled the role impeccably during the past two series. Before that, Karmichael Hunt and Shaun Berrigan did the job.
Coach Mal wants someone who can cover those crucial halves positions as well as dummy half, but also back row, wing and centre. Obviously he's drawing a long bow and knows a player of that versatility simply does not exist.
The front runner appears to be Manly half Daly Cherry Evans, who although a rookie is not easily overawed and is robust, despite being only 84kgs. He is no doubt the future, although Big Mal is seemingly baulking at carrying a specialist halfback on the bench.
Burns, who hails from the border town of Texas, would revel in the step-up in class. He has played half, five-eighth and hooker at NRL level, is a ferocious competitor and as tough as old boots.
A smokey he might be, but he would never let Queensland down.