Hull Kingston Rovers Head Coach Tony Smith has expressed his doubts about the changes in the rules that the game will see once the Super League resumes on August 2nd.
Speaking to the Hull Daily Mail with less than a month until the restart, Smith discussed the proposed changes to the game that has already been seen in the NRL. These changes will see scrums being scrapped, and the six again rule will be introduced - just like it has been Down Under. Previously, a penalty was awarded for a ruck infringement; however, Super League referees will now restart the tackle count. The only exception is if they view it as a professional foul, which is now classed as a sin-bin offence.
Smith believes the game may not see the benefits from the changes
“It’s a lot for the players to deal with and cope with but it is what it is and we’ve got to get on with it," he said to local media. "I disagree with them. This is when you get people who don’t really understand rugby league making decisions for people who are involved in rugby league. You get too many of them involved and I think you end up coming up with things you don’t realise you’re getting".
“We’re going to have a heavy workload for our players over the next coming weeks and they’re talking about speeding it up. I think they’re increasing workloads which does speed the game up as well but having watched enough NRL now sides are happy to give away an extra tackle or two when teams are coming out from their own end. They’re not bothered.
“The six again for a slow play of the ball isn’t as severe as a seven-tackle 20-metre restart. That’s a killer because you’ve got to return 30 metres before you can make a tackle as a defending team so you’re under the pump from the start and everybody wants to avoid that."
"Whether (the changes) enhances the game, I'm not sure"
Smith continued in his discussion of the tweaks, "If you watch the NRL, you can almost see teams make a decision that they’re going to get the first couple of play of the balls slow and if that means giving away an extra tackle, that’s what they do".
“So when they say they’re actually speeding it up, in some respects they’re actually slowing it down because teams are prepared to have an extra tackle or two in their set in order to get control of the set at the start. It’s something we probably predicted would happen but it’s coming to fruition more and more now.
“I think there will be a lot of restarts to sets on teams that are coming out from their own goalposts. Whether that enhances the game I’m not sure.”
It is very unlikely that Smith is alone in thinking the way he does, but there are other changes that will level the playing field for all teams. "A small number of neutral venues" will be used for the fixtures, until the RFL is instructed otherwise. Hull KR play Toronto Wolfpack on August 2nd in one of the first games scheduled for the restart.