SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Referee Ben Cummins gestures during the round 25 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Cronulla Sharks at Leichhardt Oval on September 08, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has flagged the league will consider altering the new rules introduced into the game should they show little or negative impacts on the game.

The ARL Commission introduced eight new rules for the 2021 season in hope of making the game more exciting and free flowing, while many have hit back with criticism on several of the new rules.

Scrums are set to be replaced with a play-the-ball when players in possession go into touch, with some criticism stating the change could end up causing more stoppages than before.

Annesley revealed to NRL.com that the league would look to tweak rules where needed to ensure their goal of limiting stoppages in a more unpredictable game format following a trial run.

“If we have a scrum, you have to wait for all the players to get there, the referee has to pack the scrum, and the ball has to be fed and come back out, so having a handover either 10 metres in [from the sideline], 20 metres in or in the centre of the field, in theory, should be quicker,” Annesley said.

“If we have to look at the process to make that faster then we will do that. If it is slowing down for any particular reason, like defensive lines getting set, then there are some levers we can pull to make that a bit quicker.

“Everything we have done over the last few years has really been about minimising stoppages, increasing the amount of time the ball is in play, increasing the fatigue factor, trying to open up some spaces on the field and making the game more exciting and entertaining to watch.”

Annesley believes clubs will have a greater time to adapt to the new rules compared to last year, where the league was quickly brought out of its hiatus in May.

“People who have come out of clubland as coaches are able to give a view about how clubs might interpret things and how they might try to utilise the rules,” Annesley said

“There is nothing wrong with utilising the rules to your own advantage as long as you aren’t flouting the rules but certainly having those sort of people involved will help referees get a better feel for what is going to happen.”

The league introduced the new rules in December last year, including:

  • Two points for field goals outside the 40m line
  • Six Again for 10 metre infringements
  • Penalties for teams if they leave a scrum before a referee calls “break”
  • Play the ball restart after ball or player finds touch
  • The Bunker will now review replays after an on-field referee awards a try but a conversion attempt will not be allowed until it gets the green light
  • Injured players will be interchanged if a trainer ask for play to be stopped
  • When a captain’s challenge is inconclusive a team will not be docked for an unsuccessful attempt
  • A handover will be ordered when a player does not make a genuine attempt to play the ball correctly with their foot