AAP AFL

Listen to fans on Origin: Pendlebury

By AAP Newswire

Scott Pendlebury has urged the AFL and its clubs to listen to fans in deciding the future of representative football.

A near-capacity 50,000 crowd is expected when Victoria and the All-Stars do battle at Marvel Stadium in Friday night's bushfire relief match, which will be the first of its kind in more than a decade.

Debate rages over whether state-based competition - including genuine State of Origin contests - should be brought back as a regular fixture on the AFL calendar.

Clubs are understandably reluctant to let their stars feature in what would effectively amount to exhibition games.

But there appears to be an appetite for representative football amongst leading players and the fanbase.

"I understand both sides," Collingwood captain Pendlebury said.

"In 2008, Josh Fraser did his PCL in this game and we (Collingwood) lost our No.1 ruckman for the second half of the year going into a finals campaign.

"But I think the most important people are the fans and if they enjoy it, they really embrace the game (and) the players want to put their hands up to play, then it's hopefully something that can get up."

Players' eagerness to feature in this year's bushfire relief match forced the AFL to remove its initial limit of three per club in each representative team.

"Clearly people are interested in State of Origin in this concept," All-Stars and Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt said.

"It's going to be a great test case for what State of Origin footy could look like going forward."

The last AFL representative match in a genuine State of Origin format was in 1999, when Victoria thrashed South Australia.

Carlton captain Patrick Cripps and GWS skipper Stephen Coniglio, who will represent the All-Stars, were hopeful of one day pulling on Western Australia's 'Black Swan' jumper.

"Although it's a great privilege to play for the All-Stars, I'd love to play for WA," Coniglio said.

"To play alongside Patty (Cripps) and guys like Nic Nat, Sonny Walters and Fyfey - the players want to play.

"If we can find a way to put it in our schedule like tomorrow night, raising money for such a great cause and something that's dear to a lot of people's hearts, we can maybe use that to roll it out in the next few years and play for charities each year."