Canterbury coach Des Hasler has implored the NRL to fix the scheduling issues surrounding State of Origin after a depleted Bulldogs side crashed to the Gold Coast Titans on Sunday.
In a canny post-game deflection that would have made Wayne Bennett proud, a fuming Hasler said the NRL has been rendered “irrelevant” during the Origin period.
The Bulldogs were without representative stars Trent Hodkinson, Josh Morris, Brett Morris, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer, while skipper James Graham is injured.
They put up a strong first-half fight against a Titans side missing only one player – captain Nate Myles – to Origin duty, but fell away as the hosts turned on the dazzle in the second half and won 28-14.
Hasler said it was “embarrassing” for the competition to be “ravaged” with 34 of its best players unavailable.
“We all know the reason why – it’s the broadcasters and it’s this and it’s that,” he said.
“Well the NRL, that’s their job. That’s what they’re on the big money for, to come up with the solution, and they haven’t.
“All you hear about is how they’re at loggerheads and in blues with their 16 stakeholders.
“They’ve got to get their act together.”
Calls for State of Origin to be played on standalone weekends have come year after year, but the NRL is reportedly nearing a solution.
NRL head of game strategy Shane Richardson is conducting a whole of game review, with the intention of an entirely new structure for the rugby league calender when the next broadcast deal begins in 2017.
That may not be quick enough to please Hasler.
“I know people talk up Origin, it’s a great event and a wonderful thing,” he said.
“We’re not the only side to be victims.
“This year it’s us, in the years past it’s been the Broncos and the Storm and other sides.
“Everything has to stop for it.
“We’ll leave it to the powers that be but the sooner they fix the format up the better.
“But that’s not the reason why we lost today.”