Andrew Johns speaks ahead of NSW Blues’ series clash with Queensland Maroons

Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns has called for State of Origin to only be played on Wednesday nights, underlining the importance of “tradition”.

After playing all three games on a Wednesday night in 2020, the ARL Commission has in 2021 renewed its experiment with Sunday night Origin. Game I will be played on a Wednesday, Game II a Sunday and the final match a Wednesday.

The ARL Commission followed the Wednesday-Sunday-Wednesday format in 2019 and 2018, after it used the all-Wednesday framework for every edition dating back 10 years, to 2012.

“Sunday night is probably the highest-rating time on TV,” Johns said on Wide World of Sports’ Immortal Behaviour.

“Sunday night everyone’s in, recovering from a weekend maybe, everyone sort of kicks back on a Sunday night, everyone’s got school or work the next day. So I can understand that point of view.

“But tradition is it’s Wednesday. We’ve tried all the other days; we’ve tried Monday and Tuesday and Thursday. Wednesday is Origin. Keep it that way.”

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The MCG had been locked in to host the opening game of this year’s series until Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak forced the ARL Commission into relocating the match to Townsville’s Queensland Country Bank Stadium.

Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium will host Game II and Homebush’s Stadium Australia the final match.

Blues coach Brad Fittler revealed that the NSW government had made a bid to host the series-opener at Parramatta’s Bankwest Stadium, while Canberra Stadium was also among the contenders.

But Johns said he would have preferred to play an Origin match in Townsville over the ACT.

“A lot of people are making a lot about playing the game in Townsville, but as a New South Welshman I would have rather played in Townsville because of the warm weather, no dew, a fast surface, compared to playing in Canberra where it’s freezing and slippery.

“Once you get on the field you don’t even hear the crowd.”

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