Slater: Melbourne will thrive on Origin
Billy Slater believes State of Origin in Melbourne is a recipe for success and is excited for when rugby league's showpiece event comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
The Storm fullback is confident despite Victoria not fielding a team in the traditional fixture, popularity is high enough to make a sell-out crowd realistic.
“It’s a great atmosphere at Etihad but I think certainly this is going to go up a few levels here,” Slater said.
“To have a full house at the MCG and to play in front of it is certainly something to look forward to.”
The agreement with the NRL will see two games played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, one in 2015 and the other in 2018.
“I think it’s great for the game, it’s great for Melbournians and Victorians to get a chance to see State of Origin in their home state,” Slater said.
“For the game: it’s the showpiece of rugby league, to have it down here and expanding our game is certainly a great thing.”
This year marks the ninth season in which Slater has been selected to represent Queensland, and is likely to be a contender to run out in maroon once again when Origin travels to Melbourne next year.
“I’ve always been excited about having games down here in Melbourne, whether it be for Australia or for State of Origin,” he said.
“Playing at Etihad against England in the match a few years ago was a great thrill for myself and playing State of Origins there as well, but this is just another level.
The series first came to the world-renowned stadium in 1994, when it drew a then-record crowd of 87,161. This was followed by matches in 1995 and 1997, but has not returned since.