David Shillington July 13, 2012
Raiders skipper David Shillington playing for the Maroons this year. Photo: Cameron Spencer
The time has come for the Australian Rugby League Commission to seriously consider scheduling State of Origin on stand-alone weekends.
This year's Origin series was undoubtedly the most brutal and physically taxing one I've been involved in, and it's getting harder all the time for players to back up for their clubs.
Cameron Smith's withdrawal from the Melbourne side last week was obviously an advantage for the Raiders, but it's not an ideal scenario for rugby league in general.
The fans want to see the best players in action as often as possible, and you will find more and more Origin players will be rested as the intensity of the game's showpiece increases each year.
Origin Three was one of the toughest games I've played in, and while I pulled up fine mentally, physically it was another story.
I don't want to sound like I'm whinging because I would play the next day after Origin if I had to, but player welfare has to be considered.
I know the ARLC resolved earlier this year it won't consider stand-alone Origin fixtures next season … hopefully they will readdress the issue.
Our win last week against the Storm was undoubtedly our best of the year, but we'll have to take a different mentality into our home clash against the Gold Coast on Sunday.
Despite the fact they were minus Smith and Billy Slater, we were rated $5 long shots by the bookies and not given much chance of winning externally.
Against the Titans at home we will have to contend with the favourites tag in a game most people would expect us to win.
I think Gold Coast has won four from six away from home, so they're pretty impressive on the road.
In terms of a collective forwards display, I'd rate our pack's performance against the Storm up there as one of the best during my four years at the club.
We will have to readjust our game plan against the Titans, because their defensive tactics are completely different to Melbourne's.
The Storm prefer to put most of their effort into winning the battle on the ground, they are the competition frontrunners in that area.
Gold Coast's defensive coach Trevor Gillmeister was one of the game's best tacklers in his day, and he's definitely translated that into his players.
They'll look to hit us hard with good defensive technique, and the huge metres we racked up against the Storm may not be as readily available.
As a unit we've spoken about becoming a more dominant team at home, and putting on a good show for our fans who have endured some hard times over the last season-and-a-half.
With five of our next seven games at Canberra Stadium, now is an ideal time to back up our words with actions.
David Shillington plays prop for the Canberra Raiders