AAP Rugby

Standalone Origin lessens NRL impact: CEO

By AAP Newswire

It's not just any given Sunday for the NRL.

State of Origin returns to the weekend for the first time in 17 years when NSW look to wrap up the series in game two against Queensland at ANZ Stadium.

The move not only allowed the NRL to reduce its regular competition from 26 rounds to 25 but, more importantly, means clubs are only forced to be without their Origin stars for one match.

One of the biggest downsides of the juggernaut that is the Origin period was that it diluted the quality of the national competition.

But on that score, NRL boss Todd Greenberg has so far given the scheduling change a big tick.

"The standalone Sunday night State of Origin was primarily introduced to lessen the impact on the premiership and at this stage we feel that has been achieved," Greenberg told AAP.

"We're certainly hoping there are some additional benefits as well."

Among those could also include an increase in television ratings, with expectations that the national audience would rise on a Sunday night instead of mid-week viewing on Wednesday.

The series-opener this year attracted 2.35 million viewers to again claim top spot as the most watched program so far this year over the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony (2.01 million).

A near sellout is also anticipated, with eight of the past nine Origin clashes drawing over 80,000 despite the Maroons' dominance over the Blues in the interstate rivalry.

"Ticket sales have been strong for the match - even before the Blues' game one win," Greenberg said.

"While it can be difficult to predict ratings accurately we would certainly expect the game to give us ratings close to the game one figures."

The standalone Origin match falls on the NRL's new representative round, which includes the State of Origin women's match on Friday, and a Pacific Test double-header on Saturday.

The round is locked in for all five years of the current broadcast cycle, with Perth understood to be the host of next year's second Origin clash.