Long wait for Blues success has made fans more passionate: Carr

NSW rugby league boss Geoff Carr has described Queensland’s seven-year dominance over the Blues as the best thing to have happened to State of Origin.
Nanjing Night Net

While he’s hell-bent on ending the Maroons’ long-standing stranglehold on the Origin series this year, Carr believes NSW’s long wait for success has galvanised the state and evoked a passion among supporters that was once only synonymous with Queenslanders.

”There was always an expectation from NSW supporters that they were going to win,” Carr said. ”The level of engagement in Queensland was always far far higher because there was always that thought that the team really needed them to get behind them to help win. I think with every series that goes by and we get beat, there’s more and more desire from the NSW people to turn it around. That passion has really grown into a groundswell of support for the team. The passion has always been there to an extent but not to the level it is now.”

The last time NSW won a series was back in 2005, and the television audience for the final game of that series was 1.86 million.

For last year’s Origin decider, that figure more than doubled with 4.06 million viewers tuning in to watch Cooper Cronk kick the Maroons to their seventh straight series win. In 2005, when NSW had won their third consecutive series, the total number of viewers for the series was 5.35 million. Last year the series figures broke an Origin record with a combined audience of 11.9 million.

”After winning three series in a row, we won game one of the 2006 series and everyone said Origin was dead and people began to ask where does Origin go from here because NSW will just dominate,” Carr said.

”Then they win game two and we go to game three in Melbourne where Darren Lockyer picks up a loose pass and they win by two points on the bell. That started their dominance but it was at a time where all the so-called experts were predicting the death of Origin because of the NSW dominance.”

The record crowd for game one in Sydney when there are two NSW home games in a series, is 68,000.

That is set to be eclipsed this year with a capacity crowd expected for the opening game of the series at ANZ Stadium on June 5.

More than 71,000 tickets have already been sold for Laurie Daley’s first game in charge of the Blues, while as of Tuesday 52,000 tickets had been snapped up for what could potentially be the deciding game of the series on July 17.

”An Origin game at Suncorp Stadium has for some time been talked about as the premier sporting event to attend because of the passion of the Queensland supporters and the atmosphere they create,” Carr said. ”You probably find the last two games in Sydney with the big number of supporters, the atmosphere in Sydney is right up there. Ten years ago it was good but the Sydney Origin was never talked about in the same language as Queensland, but now it is.

”Look at the Blatchy’s Blues, who started off as a few blokes with wigs. Now we’re in the vicinity of 15,000 people prepared to turn up with blue wigs and blue t-shirts, so you see there’s a real commitment to the team now.”

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