‘‘It was something I loved as a kid, I remember running home from school to watch the games. I think the players now have a real need and a real want to play.
‘‘The Big V is such a big thing and been a big part of my childhood and I would imagine it would become [the same] for the kids of today also.’’
Collingwood wingman Steele Sidebottom said he had to pinch himself at times that he was part of the occasion. “The whole experience was unreal and hopefully it can continue,” he said.
West Coast’s Andrew Gaff, who has played international rules for Australia in Ireland, said he did not hesitate to put his hand up when he had the chance to be a late call-up. “I love the representative stuff because we don’t get too many opportunities in the AFL because it is an Australian only sport,” Gaff said.
GWS star Stephen Coniglio, who played for the All-Stars, also wants to see it remain, and was effusive about the the chance to spend the week with the likes of Sydney coach John Longmire and one of his idols in Fremantle superstar Nat Fyfe.
This was Coniglio’s first proper match since round 17 last year, after his season was cut short through injury.
Coniglio was unequivocal in his support for origin but stressed it had to be at a time and format which suited clubs, players and the league.
“100 per cent. It’s a no-brainer,” Coniglio said. “I’m not sure what the ratings were but hopefully we made a lot of money for the cause.
“Why wouldn’t you do it? The players love to do it. If we can find a happy medium for everyone. I’m a big fan of State of Origin going forward.”
No one appeared to suffer any injuries which previously was an issue for origin.
“I used to watch the game when I was a kid and to play for such a great cause and to represent the all-stars was, in a way, a dream come true,” Coniglio said.
“To be around other players you admire for a special cause, it was a brilliant night.
“There was some pretty special moments. Toby Greene getting cheered for once in Melbourne was a nice one as well. I think for a lot of players, pre-season is so long, this is just another thing to look forward to.”
Having a charity cause would likely also be a part of any future origin games. The AFL could copy the NBA’s new format for its all-star game which this year saw teams playing for a selected youth charity with the winner each quarter earning a six-figure sum for their charity.
Coniglio also felt the timing of this game worked as teams are just beginning pre-season games.
“If anything it’s a really good time of year,” Coniglio said. “Do it before the start of the season. You get a full match, for me personally, it’s great.
“I go back to the Giants now, I have one more crack at a pre-season game and then we are straight into it. For me the less pre-season games the better.”
With Peter Ryan, AAP
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.