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2021 Origin dates: MCG in mix with series back at mid-season

The 2021 Telstra Premiership draw features a return to mid-year billing for the game's State of Origin showpiece with one game likely to be taken to Melbourne.

The annual interstate series was forced to the post-season by the COVID-19 disruption in 2020 and while it was hotly contested and widely watched, television ratings seemed to suggest fans to prefer Origin in the middle of the year.

The NRL is working towards fulfilling its commitment to playing one of those three games in Melbourne with the other two in Brisbane and Sydney.

"We've announced previously we have an arrangement to play one of the games in Melbourne and we obviously are now in discussions with the Victorian government around what that looks like given borders are opening between NSW and Victoria," NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said.

"We are working on a configuration potentially with Brisbane and Sydney but before formalising that we want to make sure it will be a great experience for fans, for players and of course our partnership with the Victorian government."

Origin I will take place on Wednesday, June 9 in between rounds 13 and 14, with half the competition getting their bye in round 13.

Origin II will be on Sunday, June 27 while the NRL competition takes a one-week representative hiatus with other men's internationals to potentially be scheduled for that weekend and Women's State of Origin locked in for Friday June 25.

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The Ampol State of Origin series concludes with game three on Wednesday, July 14 in between rounds 17 and 18 of the Telstra Premiership, with the second half of teams getting their bye in round 17.

"We've trialled it at the end of the season, it hasn't been as successful as we would have thought but it served the purposes for this year," ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys said on Wednesday.

A mid-season Origin this year would have been played to no crowds and with a reduced NRL draw, it would have unfairly penalised teams with high Origin representation, he said.

"Our ratings weren't as good as they normally are in its normal time period," he added.

"A proper test would have been to run it in October but that also affects our international calendar and we don't want to affect that so after consultation with the broadcasters it was best to put it back to its original position."

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