Origin madness irritates Blues fan

THE rivalry in Australia’s State of Origin rugby league, which is played over three matches each year, heads to Melbourne tonight for the second match of this year’s series.

It is – arguably – the biggest rivalry and sporting spectacle in Australian sport, and its effects and viewership extend beyond Australia’s borders.

PNG, Australia’s competition-mad northern neighbor, is no exception. Every year, houses, bars and hotels all try to join in the excitement of the State of Origin series. Companies make money, houses are distributed, offices.

Rugby league’s crazy populace, from the coast to the highlands, loves every game in the series.

Today the town in Mt Hagen, the densely populated center of the Highlands, will be awash with excitement for tonight’s second match in the series. Face painters will ply their trade at every bus stop and storefront, stores will hand out jerseys and flags of all sizes and other merchandise.

But Wilson Toli is a man who doesn’t go crazy. He says he hates that Papua New Guineans are going crazy over the State of Origin game, even though he’s watching on TV with the rest of them.

“I don’t know why we’re so crazy about this game between the New South Wales Blues and the Queensland Maroons,” he says.

“Australians don’t watch our SP Hunters and Kumuls play our game, so why do we love their game.”

“This State of Origin game is driving us crazy and causing a lot of unwanted things. In fact, lives have been lost as a result of the madness and rivalry that runs deep among the competition-mad supporters in PNG.”

“Yes, State of Origin is one of the big sports played in Australia, but if PNG fans want to watch, they need to behave and watch meaningfully, and not paint their faces and go to extremes by consuming alcohol and to watch,”

“Australians know that the State of Origin game played in Australia has a large following in Papua New Guinea and we must work to change these perceptions.”

And which team does he support?

“I like watching State of Origin and I support the New South Wales Blues and not the Queensland Maroons,” he says.

“And tonight the New South Wales Blues will level the series or the Queensland Maroons will win the second series. This is not my problem as long as the match is important to me,” Mr Toli said.

John Dor, another fan from Jiwaka, said he doesn’t follow the NRL but enjoys watching the State of Origin.

He said it’s a waste of time to sit behind TV screens watching games that don’t bring him any benefit, then contradicts himself in the same breath by saying the State of Origin games give him hope and something to cheer about are.

“But sitting behind the screen watching the State of Origin gives me hope, despite not being in favor of the New South Wales Blues or Queensland Maroons,” Mr Dor said.

Rhonda Dar, also from Jiwaka, said she enjoyed watching the match and is a supporter of the Queensland Maroons.

Ms Dar, a student of Father Peter Secondary School, said she prefers to support the Maroons but due to the ongoing power cuts in the province, she does not know if she will be able to attend the second match tonight.

Kopiap Naiko, an older man, said he would support the New South Wales Blues because he is a big old blues fan.

Mr Naiko, from Southern Highlands, has lived in Mount Hagen all his life and said despite the power outage he would still find a way to watch the match tonight.