Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy says the NRL is failing its duty of care by refusing to discuss the prospect of a stand-alone State of Origin series.
If the NRL is serious about player welfare, it will introduce a stand-alone State of Origin series, according to Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy.
The Storm mentor’s NRL club was thrust into an injury crisis following Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk’s setbacks in game one.
Bellamy was more worried about the many NRL players who did back up after Wednesday’s classic Origin encounter, including Storm skipper Cameron Smith.
The former NSW coach accused the league of failing its duty of care.
“I’ve been saying for a few years that Origin should be alone,” Bellamy said on Tuesday.
“Watching that on Wednesday night, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game of rugby league that physical. I can’t imagine it getting any easier.
“They (NRL) keep talking about how much concern they’ve got for players’ welfare and safety.
“That to me is a bit of a contradiction. They want the players to back up for club games.”
Smith added his voice on Monday to the growing push for stand-alone Origin games, but the issue is not even up for debate at league headquarters.
NRL chief executive Dave Smith said on Monday that changes to the Origin schedule would not happen under his watch.
Bellamy refused to bite when asked for his take on Smith’s stubborn stance.
“The disappointing thing is they keep telling us they’re very aware of players’ safety and welfare,” he said.
“It has got to affect them (players), playing a game like that and backing up a couple of days later.”
Bellamy pointed out the quality of the competition also suffered during the Origin period, and that it had a knock-on effect on crowds.
But he added that such issues were irrelevant next to the welfare of players.
“That’s got to be the (NRL’s) No.1 priority. I don’t think it is,” he said.
Slater is still in line to tackle the Blues in the second Origin clash despite a serious shoulder injury.
Bellamy has backed the Queensland fullback to be “a little bit sensible” as he decides whether playing on June 18 in Sydney is viable.
“If he’s 85 or 90 per cent, he’ll probably play. They’ll probably put a needle in it,” he said.
“With what Billy’s been through, if he’s 50-50, he’ll probably rule himself out.
“If he thinks he can play, I’m not going to stop him.”
Bellamy said he had yet to settle on a halves combination for Sunday’s home clash with the Sydney Roosters.