Dave Craven: Legends provide big hint to game's rulers

ORIGIN is back. What a result.

Legend: Adrian Morley.

Not the State of Origin Queensland v New South Wales variety although, of course, that does start up again next Wednesday.

No. I’m referring to the War of the Roses Origin contest – Yorkshire Legends v Lancashire Legends.

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Have you seen the line-ups? Here is just a flavour of what is in store when they meet at Castleford’s Wheldon Road on June 23.

In the White Rose corner, with Chev Walker as captain, there are Keith Senior, Jimmy Lowes, Lee Gilmour and Danny Orr as well as Hull FC chief Lee Radford.

But the Red Rose corner, in a side led by Adrian Morley, takes the term ‘star-studded’ to another level. For starters, there is three ‘Man of Steel’ winners in the shape of Paul Sculthorpe, Paul Wellens and Iestyn Harris.

Throw in a few more Great Britain stars like Paul Deacon, Garry Connolly and Chris Joynt as well as some of Super League’s most memorable players – anyone fancy seeing Tommy Martyn again? – and it highlights the calibre of past stars attracted.

Admittedly, they are all obviously a little beyond their prime now (although Gaz Ellis, Andy Lynch, Chris Bridge and Rob Burrow have all only recently retired) but it should be a fascinating contest.

Natural competitive spirit does not just die so expect some fireworks along with the fun.

But seeing so many stellar names proudly wearing their county colours again – even at this level – only serves to leave people once more wondering: why don’t we have Origin for real?

It has been 15 years since the War of the Roses was last held.

In that last fixture, Chris Thorman, Ryan Hudson, Richard Horne and Mark Calderwood all played for Yorkshire as they upset the odds to vanquish Lancashire and they are all included in the squad lists, too, for this forthcoming Legends game.

It is a real shame that the fixture, once such a staple of the rugby league calender before the summer era, has been lost for so long.

Its benefits are obvious; if properly sustained and staged, a two or three-game series would certainly harden players’ preparation for Test match duty just as it has done for so long in Australia.

But in this age where there is such emphasis on organising an ‘event’, not just a game, it has such potential to grow in so many ways.

Rob Elstone took over as Super League chief executive yesterday.

Well, we think he did. There has still been no official word.

However, of the many matters to deal with in his ‘in’ tray, wouldn’t it be nice if revitalising the War of the Roses was near the top?

It would require a total buy-in from all Super League teams but one of the prerequisites of the job the former Everton CEO has now undertaken is having the ability to unite different factions.

Another word thrown around so liberally now, almost as much as ‘innovative’, is ‘legacy.’

If 10 years from now Elstone has helped make Origin as central to the sport’s calender as the Challenge Cup final or Grand Final, he will have left his own.

Granted, it might not even be on his agenda. But at least those elder statesmen are still making the most of the concept.

Try and get along on June 23. It also serves as a benefit game for Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton and Morley, two of the sport’s great ambassadors, and, with excellent support from Rugby AM, should be a fine event.