XXXX Queensland Maroons coach Mal Meninga has welcomed the challenge of return visits to Sydney during next year’s Origin series.
“We were hoping for two games (in Queensland), but it’s not going to be so we’ll just get on with it,” Meninga said.
“The game should always come first.”
With Games One and Three to be played at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium in 2013, Meninga acknowledged the Maroons were now faced with an even tougher task.
But Origin’s most successful coach is excited about the path that awaits the Maroons.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” he said.
“NSW are right on our heels but we can’t be dwelling on a decision that’s been made.
“We’ll just get on with it and try and do our best to do well down there.”
He said meticulous planning and preparation held the key to success.
“We’ve had a little bit of success in Sydney in 2007, 08 and 09 but the last two years we’ve stumbled a little bit down there,” Meninga said.
“We haven’t played to our potential at ANZ Stadium. We were a little bit off the mark as far as our performance and preparation was concerned so that’s going to be really critical next year.
“We can’t afford to be one or two percent off our preparation. We’ve got to prepare really well otherwise we’re going to get beaten again like we did the last two years.”
Meninga’s comments come after the Australian Rugby League Commission announced a five-year schedule that will see ANZ Stadium host two games in the 2013 State of Origin Series with Suncorp Stadium hosting the remaining match.
The five-year cycle will see Queensland and NSW each host two series in which they have two home games.
NSW will host two games in 2013 and 2016, Queensland in 2014 and 2017, with each state hosting one game in 2015.
The remaining game in the 2015 season will be played at a neutral venue. The NRL is currently in discussions with the Victorian Major Events Company about Melbourne hosting this match.
The schedule ensures that from 2010-2017 each state will have hosted one ‘two-game-series’ in every three years.
QRL chief executive officer Robert Moore, who held discussions with the Commission, said the QRL had expected to host two games next year but only in the absence of a new model.
“The ARLC in considering future venues for a new model took into account the role and history of Origin in Queensland and New South Wales as well as expanding markets and commercial return,” Moore said.
“This model ensures Queensland and New South Wales receive the same number of games over the cycle with the ability to allocate one game to a neutral venue in an expanding market.”
The 2013 Origin Series will see matches at ANZ Stadium on June 5 and July 17 and Suncorp Stadium on June 26.
2013 Origin Series
Game 1: ANZ Stadium, Sydney – June 5
Game 2: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane – June 26
Game 3: ANZ Stadium, Sydney – July 17