Jack Hetherington is set for a switch to the second-row for the 2022 NRL season.
The Canterbury Bulldogs enforcer spent plenty of time on the sidelines suspended last year, and head coach Trent Barrett believes the move could bring with it a chance of tackling style and as a result, less time drawing the wrath of officials, match review committee and judiciary.
His aggressive style has made him something of a target for referees, with Hetherington giving away 17 penalties last season - as much as any other player, tied at the top with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves at the Sydney Roosters.
Hetherington's move to the edge comes as the Bulldogs look to replace Matt Doorey for up to the first half of the season, who is out injured.
Barrett has revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald that Hetherington will start on the right-hand edge, with recruit Tevita Pangai Junior on the left. Luke Thompson will be joined by another recruit in Paul Vaughan in the middle, with the inspirational Josh Jackson to maintain his spot at lock.
Bulldogs fans will get their first look at the new-look forward pack this weekend when the Bulldogs play the Newcastle Knights in their first pre-season trial on Monday evening. They then play the Cronulla Sharks the following week.
Barrett also implored the NRL to change the judiciary system, arguing Hetherington and other players shouldn't be suspended for Grade 1 offences due to loading, while also suggesting the different style of tackling should help him.
“None of those incidents were really bad last year involving Jack, and if you take him out of the firing line in the middle third of the field, where he sometimes thinks he has to prove his toughness, he’ll make half those tackles on an edge,” Barrett told the publication.
“It will also be a different style of tackle he will be making.
“I think everyone telling him [he had to be aggressive] didn’t help him, but that never came from us.
“There needs to be rule changes around the loading. We’ve got blokes being suspended for grade-one offences. It’s a contact sport.
There will be contact around the head and neck, but it’s not intentional, and the game isn’t dirty anymore - the game has changed. You’d hate to lose a guy like Jack Hetherington, or a Victor Radley, who I also have great admiration for, early in the year [because of loading]. It’s ridiculous.”
A recent poll of coaches revealed that 80 per cent believe the judiciary system needs to be overhauled, while 90 per cent said the high tackle crackdown during magic round last year was "over the top."