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AFL State of Origin as Charitable Effort Suffers from Unfortunate Timing

Sydney Swans coach John Longmire expressed views that he supports a State of Origin match to supply funds to the bush fire relief effort and while the AFL has been supportive of the idea, AFL clubs are just ever so slightly reluctant to risk star players just ahead of the Toyota 2020 AFL Premiership competition.

In the overall scheme, fears of losing an important player for any number of home-and-away fixtures seem insignificant, but at least the concerns are out in the open ant not cloaked in rhetoric.

The idea under consideration is to have the Victorian clubs supply a side, with the rest of the states where Aussie Rules is played supplying the other side.

Charlie Gardner, head of football for the Swans, openly confirmed the concerns of not merely the Swans, but other clubs as well.

“As a footy club we fully support a proposal to put on a one-off state of origin game to raise much-needed funds for the bushfire relief,” Gardner told SEN.

It would have been far more convenient for the bush fires to wait until after the season, but time, tide and raging infernos wait for no man, no club, and no league.

“I think the balancing act is if it is at the start of the year, making sure the clubs have a say in player availability and their preparation and who is at a stage in their preparation where they can play and that would be the tension in the whole discussion.”

Talk about reviving State of Origin for Australian Rules has been going on since 1999, the last time such took place. The all-star match between Victoria and South Australia was played, where else, Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The current iteration of the Swans was not in existence then. The GWS Giants were still several years in the future. The Gold Coast Titans were not around, but the Brisbane Lions were three years old.

South Australia had what are today known as the Crows, but Port was some years off in 1999.

Western Australia had only recently started fielding Fremantle Dockers, while West Coast Eagles were well established.

If the AFL can emulate the NRL, where State of Origin is highly significant, they would have something worthwhile and the idea of having it after the Grand Final would make sense, as to play it now, even for charitable reasons, might make it too closely resemble the NFL’s All Pro game, where the all-star sides are composed of whoever is willing to show up.