The kick-off time for the Sunday State Of Origin games needs to revisited, NRL greats argued in front of a crowd of 200 people at Fox League and The Daily Telegraph’s inaugural The Ultimate Footy Lunch. The sold-out event was held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on June 21.
Fox League commentator Matty Johns said night football is holding back the game with time being inconvenient for families with kids wanting to watch the footy on the ground or on television.
“I’d be going early Wednesday night or Sunday afternoon. With the State of Origin, you could put one game a series at four o’clock in the afternoon. I think State of Origin would go to another level,” he said.
Johns was the moderator for a panel session at The Ultimate Footy Lunch. NRL greats and Fox Sports commentators Ben Ikin, Gorden Tallis, Steve “Blocker” Roach, Michael Ennis, as well as The Daily Telegraph’s Michael Carayannis and David Riccio joined Johns on the panel.
Most of the panel members spoke in support of Johns about moving the Origin kick-off to an earlier time. Riccio said: “TV ratings wise, you can’t tell me Origin is not going to be the most-watched show anyway – I’d watch it at midnight.”
NRL boss Todd Greenberg, who was present at the event, defended the current scheduled kick-off time of 7.50pm for the second Origin game on Sunday June 24. He said: “There is some romance around afternoon kick-off times, but for us the priority is big crowds and big ratings. I have absolutely no doubt that on Sunday night we will have a full house, and more importantly, it will be the highest-ranked program on television this year bar none. So the short answer is we are contracted, but we will always look at playing games in the daytime.”
Fox League presenter Yvonne Sampson was the emcee for The Ultimate Footy Lunch. There were special guest appearances on stage by Brett Finch and James “The Professor” Rochford, who auctioned some “valued” NRL items like a jug of former NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley’s tears.
The Daily Telegraph editor Christopher Dore, The Sunday Telegraph editor Mick Carroll, News360’s Kathy Lipari, News Corp’s head of sport Tim Morrissey and News Corp’s MD for NSW, Michael Wilkins, joined the readers at the afternoon function.
The event started at 11:30am with red carpet arrivals and drinks. The two-course lunch began just after 12:30pm and wrapped up at about 2pm with readers hanging around for some time after to mingle with the talent present.
Top photo: The Daily Telegraph’s David Riccio on the panel with Fox League commentator Mike Ennis and Steve “Blocker” Roach