League CEO Andrew Dillon puts State of Origin back on the AFL’s agenda

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Many previous attempts to revive the concept have failed as the national competition has grown and clubs have resisted the idea of having their best and most valuable players participate.

“That (detail) is the bit that would need to play out, drawing on that tradition of state v state. There is something in that but, again, how it plays out and when you play it – that is all the detail. It is something we should look at,” Dillon said.

The AFL held a State of Origin bushfire relief match at Marvel Stadium in February 2020 and a hall of fame tribute match in 2008. Both matches pitted a Victorian team against All-Stars. The most recent International Rules match between Australia and Ireland was played between men’s teams in 2017.

The most recent, genuine, mid-season AFL State of Origin match was played at the MCG in 1999, when Victoria defeated South Australia and Brent Harvey won the EJ Whitten Medal.

Dustin Martin (left) and Jeremy Cameron celebrate a goal for Victoria in the 2020 State of Origin clash that raised money for bushfire relief.

Dustin Martin (left) and Jeremy Cameron celebrate a goal for Victoria in the 2020 State of Origin clash that raised money for bushfire relief. Credit: AFL Photos

Earlier, Dillon confirmed that the scheduled entry of the Tassie Devils in 2028 remained on course with the new stadium at Macquarie Point to be completed in 2029, while he expressed faith in the surface at Optus Stadium after Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir and Eagles defender Tom Barrass both raised concerns.

Dillon met with Tasmanian premier Jeremy Rockliff in Hobart on Wednesday with plans for the proposed stadium to be released next month. The project still has to be assessed by the parliament as a project of state significance before being given the go-ahead.

He welcomed this week’s SIA report into the AFL’s Illicit Drug Policy, which found it did not contravene any of the sport’s requirements with WADA, which tests for performance-enhancing drugs. Dillon indicated the AFL was unlikely to be willing to reveal the number of players who test positive to using illicit drugs via hair testing conducted under the IDP, despite SIA recommending that such transparency could help people understand the policy better.

He said the league would put more resources into education and was keen for a national framework on the issue to be established among all professional and Olympic sports.

“We would sign up for part of that,” Dillon said.

He said the AFL expected some further regulation on gambling advertising as a result of the Federal Inquiry into online gambling but the league did not support a full prohibition. This masthead revealed last week the AFL have extended their agreement with Sportsbet to make them their majoring wagering partner until 2028.

“With any form of regulation you need to have balance,” Dillon said.

Dillon was at Marvel Stadium to launch the 2024 AFL Open to be held in Brisbane from 21-26 November. The tournament will see both the inclusion championships, for players with an intellectual disability, and wheelchair championships run concurrently over five days. He said the tournament would showcase the pure joy football provides.

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