“Fans write into me every day, I read their letters, and I take things forward.
“We’ve got to look after the fans.”
Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans and South Sydney counterpart Adam Reynolds are two of the best exponents of field goals – they have 41 one-pointers between them – but coaches at their clubs are not convinced the all-or-nothing tactic will become popular.
In fact, Manly’s Des Hasler and Souths assistant Jason Demetriou both likened the long-range field-goal option to that of the 20/40, which was barely utilised last season.
“There are always repercussions, and it is a big kick from 40m out – it’s a big big kick,” Hasler said.
“It will be an instinctive play and if it’s on it’s on. That field goal is a bit like the 20/40. That’s all it is. It won’t be a game-changer for me and it won’t be utilised.”
Latrell Mitchell launched a monster field-goal to win a thriller against the Storm in 2019, which he kicked from 38m and sailed well past the black dot. However, Demetriou predicts there will be few opportunities for players to avail themselves of the new rule.
“‘Reyno’ can kick them from that far, and so can Latrell Mitchell, but I don’t think it will have a huge affect on many games,” Demetriou said.
“There are not too many who can kick one from 40m out.
“Latrell hits the ball as sweet as anyone I’ve seen. He’s a natural left-footer who makes it look effortless.
“It’s all good doing it at training, but it’s a different story when you’re under fatigue. That’s what has made Adam Reynolds special over the years – he consistently nails it when he has to.”
Other rule changes include:
- Six more tackles for 10-metre infringements: To reduce stoppages in the game, 10m infringement penalties will be replaced with a “six-again” ruling. Referees retain the ability to blow a penalty and sin-bin a player if a side has made repeated 10m infringements or in the case of professional fouls.
- Scrums: To maintain the integrity of scrums, the referee will call “break” when he or she is satisfied the ball is out of a scrum. Players will not be permitted to break from a scrum until the referee makes the call. A full penalty will be awarded for transgressions. The team receiving the penalty will also have the option of repacking the scrum. If the scrum is repacked and players again break early, a further penalty will be awarded and one of the offending players will be sent to the sin bin.
- Play-the-ball restart after ball or player finds touch instead of a scrum.
- Handovers for incorrect play-the-ball, instead of a penalty.
- Captain’s Challenge: If a challenge is inconclusive, the on-field decision will stand but the team will retain their challenge. Fans have expressed frustration with teams losing a challenge where replays prove inconclusive.
- Bunker Reviews: Where the on-field referee believes a try is scored, the referee will award a try and the bunker will review the decision in the background. A conversion attempt will not be permitted until the bunker is satisfied a try has been scored. This will ensure less stoppage time and ensure momentum in the game continues.
- Trainers: if a trainer asks a match official to stop the game for an injury, the injured player must be either interchanged or taken off the field for a period of two minutes of elapsed game time before he is permitted to resume his place on the field. This will reduce the number of stoppages for minor injuries.
One rule that had some other clubs giggling to themselves was the referee having to call ”break” before players could exit.
“I know the one word the backs will be told to yell out as soon as a scrum is packed in the hope the opposition break and a penalty is awarded,” said one good judge.
The NRL already made huge changes to the fabric of the game last season by switching back to one referee and introducing the six-again rule. However, V’landys said the game was in the entertainment industry and needed to continue to evolve.
“These innovations will lead to less stoppages, more unpredictability and increased excitement for our fans,” V’landys said.
“The message from the fans and our broadcasters has been clear: the game became too predictable and the balance between attack and defence had gone too far in favour of defence.
“Our changes last year were successful in addressing some of those challenges and the changes announced today will take the element of unpredictability and entertainment a step further.”
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Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.