State of Origin returns to the MCG on Wednesday night.
Unfortunately for AFL players keen to represent their state it is rugby league’s showpiece which will be the centre of attention at the home of football.
Representative football hasn’t been seen since 2008 for AFL players.
That night at the MCG it was Victoria, headlined by Brendan Fevola, Jonathan Brown and Robert Murphy, which downed a Dream Team which boasted Lance Franklin, Matthew Richardson and Matthew Pavlich.
The AFL Players’ Association recently surveyed its members most likely to be selected in such a concept and received unanimous subscription.
The last time the entire playing group was surveyed – in 2010 – 86.7 per cent of respondents voted for a return of representative football.
AFLPA player relations manager Ian Prendergast said that a return of State of Origin relied on support of the AFL and clubs and it was unlikely to be part of the fixture in the short term.
Richmond star Brett Deledio said it would be a thrill to step out in the same team as some of the players he grew up playing with in junior sides.
“I would love to be able to play with Jordan Lewis and ‘Roughy’ (Jarryd Roughead), the guys I played junior footy with in the representative teams.
“It would be good, it would be a great spectacle, but it’s going to take a few years if they are going to bring it back.”
Gary Ablett and Scott Pendlebury have both been advocates for a return of State of Origin.
“I really enjoyed growing up watching the champions of the game playing together. It’d be great to get the same opportunity, and I’m sure fans would love it too,” Ablett said.
“I’ve been a big supporter of this,” Pendlebury said.
“I understand it’s not without its challenges, and that we need to work through these issues, but I don’t think this should stop it from going ahead.
“I’m confident we’ll get there eventually and it’ll be exciting for everyone involved once we do.”
To give you a taste of how exciting a showdown between the states would be, here’s four sides that could be picked for this weekend.
The Allies are gathered from ACT, New South Wales, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania. And they would trouble the traditional states.
The boys in the ‘Big V’ look strong, South Australia does too, but the power of the Western Australian forward line might get them over the line.
The Allies would love a couple more big blokes down back to help quell the star-studded forward lines going around. But with a forward line boasting the likes of Cyril, Riewoldt x 2, Taylor Walker and Tom Hawkins, they’ll score plenty if they can get the footy in there.
We have thrown Justin Westhoff down back to provide some height. The Port Adelaide swingman might go forward at times but there’s plenty of firepower down there already. Eddie Betts, Chad Wingard, Lindsay Thomas and Paul Puopolo will make life tough for any defence.
This looks just about the most complete team of the four. We have picked a few young guns to start on the ground while Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Sam Mitchell are let loose. Bob Murphy might get the captaincy given how well he’s led the Doggies so far in 2015.
Le Cras, Franklin, Walters, Ballantyne, Kennedy, Hogan – that’s some attack. With Nat Fyfe and Matt Priddis pumping the ball in and the ruck combination of Sandilands and Naitanui, this is some footy side. Down back Hooker, Rance, Taylor and Toovey would hold up pretty well.