MELBOURNE, Australia -- Players who took part in the AFL's bushfire relief match have given the tick of approval to a 'State of Origin' style match to be played every year around the time of the Marsh Community Series.
Speaking to ESPN after Victoria's 46-point victory over the All-Stars at Marvel Stadium on Friday night, Vics ruckman Stefan Martin said an Origin match could work in preseason if the Marsh series' current two-round, three week format is retained going forward.
He said it would not only allow the league's best players to come together for causes such as the bushfire relief, but also give teams' younger players more game time during the mainstream preseason clashes while the stars on 'state duty'.
"From my perspective I'd go every year. We've also figured out this is the perfect time to do it. If you have the Marsh series spread out over three weeks, you get that week in between. A lot of the guys that would be playing tonight probably play low game time this week anyway and would then ramp it up for the second Marsh game. I reckon it's a no-brainer," he said.
Martin said while the game was "a buzz all night", Brisbane's head of fitness had liaised with Victoria's coaching team to ensure he played no more than 60 percent game time. The Brisbane Lions star said this was common for all players on the night, and meant they wouldn't be putting added stress on the body compared to a regular preseason affair.
"For me personally our head of fitness mandated that it was a 60 percent maximum (game time) for me," Martin told ESPN. "I played on Sunday so it's a five-day turnaround, so I was a bit more restricted than some of the other guys (on the Victorian team).
"I think all of those heads of fitness were a bit nervous... my guy was pretty strict on that. I think everyone was pretty happy that it would be about 60 percent each because of the 27 players playing, so it was naturally going to happen. I think I was restricted a bit more [than others] from what I heard, but I think most guys would have been around 60 percent.
"I think you'd probably play a little more game time (in the Marsh series), especially with 22 or 24 players instead of 27, so this was probably a little less [game time] than what you'd normally play."
Former Port skipper Travis Boak was also complimentary of how the Victorian and All-Star teams managed the workload for players who would normally have tight restrictions on the amount of footy played in preseason.
"We had 230 rotations tonight, so everyone had a good run at it. I thought we rotated really well and everyone got their chance to put on a show," the Victorian told ESPN.
"I played about 67 percent game time last week (in the Marsh series), and it would have been close to, but under that tonight. Even though it was a quick and demanding game, it wasn't too taxing in terms of game time played, so I've pulled up really well."
He added that he would also love to see an annual return of the Origin format "at some point" on the football calendar.
"I'd love to see it. I think it needs to be put in the calendar somewhere. Where it fits, I'm not sure, but I reckon the players would put their hand up every year for something like this," Boak said.
"It's special to come together and get the opportunity to play with the best players in the competition. Whether it's [the Origin format], AFLX like last year or if you're lucky enough to represent Australia ... to see how the best players prepare on game day or at training is great."