AFL bushfire clash rekindles origin flame

The Charity Origin game for bushfire relief between Victoria and All Stars was deemed a big success.
The Charity Origin game for bushfire relief between Victoria and All Stars was deemed a big success.

The AFL's bushfire relief match seemed to capture the imagination of players, coaches and fans alike and Victoria's entertaining win over the All-Stars raised a stack of money for a great cause.

But is that it? Are we done for another 10 years or so now?

Or did AFL bigwigs see enough in Friday night's Marvel Stadium encounter, played in front of a bumper crowd of 51,052, to attempt to restore state-of-origin football to the league calendar?

Victorian coach Damien Hardwick believes there's room for it before the premiership season kicks off.

"I wouldn't say that it's an annual event, probably every third year perhaps would be something we could look at," Hardwick said.

"But I think the guys are starting to understand the value of the jumper.

"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."

Two-time Norm Smith Medal winner Dustin Martin added another honour, adjudged best afield for his 23-possession, two-goal effort in the 46-point win.

"I don't think I was best-on, there were a lot of great players out there," Martin said.

"I'm just grateful to play in the Big V and it was for a great cause, which makes it even better.

"It was just cool to meet other people ... I'll keep in touch with them from now on and who knows? I might play with them in the future if they do it again."

Despite the importance of the cause, there were still murmurings of discontent in some quarters at the AFL's branding of the match as 'State of Origin for Bushfire Relief'.

Victoria is a state and the All-Stars are not, but it's an issue that All-Stars coach John Longmire believes his group overcame.

"Victoria have obviously got a lot of history to draw upon and we don't have that, but we were quite open on where our boys come from," Longmire said.

"We discussed that we represent everywhere from Ireland to Tassie and embraced that.

"You make your own history and I thought they did a good job to be able to represent such a wide community of people from all over Australia and the world."

Australian Associated Press