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End-of-season Origin good for clubs, hard for players

Playing State of Origin in November is set to help NRL clubs via an uninterrupted season but disadvantage players on teams that don't make the finals.

With Origin set to be played after the grand final for the first time in a revamped 2020, Dragons playmaker Ben Hunt says players will have even more incentive for their teams to make the play-offs.

Those who don't play in October will be in danger of missing out on Origin selection with rival coaches Brad Fittler and Kevin Walters likely to favour players involved in the finals.

"For the guys who don't make finals you're having five or six weeks off leading into an Origin, that’s going to be a tough battle," Hunt said.

"I don't care what you are doing training by yourself it is going to be hard going into any game, let alone an Origin.

Hunt worried about Origin selection

"If you go all the way to a grand final you're obviously going to ride the highs of that grand final, and the lows if you lose, but I think you'll be in a better position fitness-wise.

"The deeper you go into finals I think you'll find more players come out of those sides."

The St George Illawarra halfback, who played hooker for the Maroons last season, admitted he may struggle to maintain his position if the Dragons don't feature in the finals and Sydney Roosters do.

McGregor: Time off means depleted Dragons now fully fit

"I think it could harm a lot of people’s chances, and myself," Hunt said. "You're going to be taking into account that some blokes are going to be a bit underdone if they're not making the finals.

"If someone is playing just below some guy - take myself for example, playing nine - if [Roosters hooker] Jakey Friend is playing pretty good footy, you're probably going to be taking him if he goes deep into finals."

St George Illawarra team-mate and Blues second-rower Tariq Sims said playing Origin after the grand final would minimise disruptions during the season.

The Dragons led the Telstra Premiership for the first 17 rounds in 2018 but were unable to maintain momentum after having five players called up for Origin while playing dummy half for Queensland took its toll on Hunt last season.

"If we can get on a roll, stay on the ball and lay a really good platform for both our halves, I think not having Origin throughout the year will benefit us," Sims said.

"We are a very fit, mobile side so without the distraction and disruption of State of Origin I think that will really benefit us as a team and as a club."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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