State of Origin travel plans not ideal: Wayne Bennett

It’s become the normal routine in 2020 but Queensland coach Wayne Bennett isn’t sure flying in and out of a city on game day is the best scenario for State of Origin.

During the COVID-19 affected NRL campaign, clubs often flew interstate on the day of matches before flying home the same day.

The Maroons will follow a similar pattern for Wednesday’s Origin opener in Adelaide.

They will fly to South Australia from their Gold Coast base on Wednesday morning, spend the day in a hotel before heading to the venue for the 8.10pm AEDT kick-off.

Another chartered flight will then take the Maroons back to Queensland in the hours after the match.

Coach Wayne Bennett and Assistant Coach Mal Meninga talk to the players during a Queensland Maroons State of Origin training session. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

“You’d prefer not to do that, particularly for an Origin game,” Bennett said.

“I mean, these games are so big and you just want everything right but NSW have to do it as well.

“It’s just not a case of us having to go, which would be a little bit different to what it was in the playoffs.

“We’re all on the plane, we’ve all got to travel tomorrow, so it kind of equalises out but I just think the games are, as I said, such quality and you want them to be at their best.

“You need to do everything in their preparation as best you possibly can.

“Flying on the day is not the ideal preparation.”

While most NRL teams got used to the fly-in, fly-out demands during the regular season, Melbourne did arrive in Sydney on the eve of this year’s grand final rather than the day of the game from their Sunshine Coast hub.

Bennett said for big occasions like Origin, the same-day plan is probably not the way to go.

“I don’t see a problem with the club games,” the veteran coach said.

“But I do see a major issue once you get above club games because of the closeness of the teams and what’s at stake.”

Meanwhile, NSW coach Brad Fittler said he saw no issues with the logistics.

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The Blues will fly out of Bankstown Airport at 10:30am and land at a navy base outside of Adelaide, before spending almost five hours in a hotel and heading to the ground.

“The good thing is all the players have done it,” Fittler said.

“They say it’s OK and they didn’t mind it.

“When you go through the whole season the travelling teams did OK.

“Things are just different, we just watched the Melbourne Cup and no one was there.

“But the fastest horse still won.”

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