Perth to bid for regular State of Origin fixture as expansion gains momentum
Perth may soon be a regular home for the NRL’s most cherished tournament.
Next year’s State of Origin game at Optus Stadium is on track to be an “absolute sell-out”, prompting calls for the state to become a regular host of the fixture.
More than 32,000 tickets were sold for the game at the new Perth stadium in the first 24 hours of going on sale.
NRL WA boss John Sackson says the strong interest in a game just under a year away is an indicator of the growing interest in rugby league west of the Great Dividing Range.
“Suffice to say, State of Origin next year will be an absolute success. I’ll be highly surprised if discussions won’t take place in the immediate future to look at the prospect of maybe a regular cycle of Origin games coming to Perth, the same way it’s been structured in Melbourne,” John Sackson told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Cam Reddin.
State of Origin will head to Perth in 2019 after returning to MCG for Game One this year. Adelaide will host a game in 2020 before Melbourne again in 2021 and 2025.
“The likely success of Origin in Perth will largely dictate the prospect of more regular Origin games and more rugby league events in the Perth market,” Mr Sackson said.
Should State of Origin bring in the crowds, talk of expansion will be hot on its heels. Meetings have already taken place between NRL boss Todd Greenberg, the Rugby League Commission and NRL WA to test the waters for a prospective expansion licence.
“I’ve had conversations with Peter [Beattie]. We’ve had some meaningful conversations. He certainly does want to see a truly national game,” Mr Sackson said.
“It’s not if, it’s when that will happen. It’s not likely to happen within the next 5 years, the term of the current television deal. But I think it’s a very good possibility to happen in the next round of television negotiations. I feel quite optimistic about that,” he said.
Mr Sackson says at least two consortia have approached him pledging their willingness to bankroll an NRL side representing Western Australia.
Both State of Origin coaches, Brad Fittler and Kevin Walters, have voiced their support for a Perth-based NRL team entering the League in the near future.
Click below to hear the full interview