NRL players fear new rule could wreck season
RUGBY league's senior players are against the controversial new 'six again' rule that is set to shape the new NRL season, with Warriors playmaker Blake Green warning the rule book shake-up may survive no longer than this year.
Currently quarantined in Tamworth, Green revealed that player representatives from all 16 NRL clubs had voted overwhelming against the rule change in a phone hook-up only last week.
The Warriors No.7 added that the group were "all on the same page" when it came to rejecting both the 'six again' change and the move from two referees back to one for the first time in a decade.
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Green said the objections were carried by Wade Graham and Daly Cherry-Evans to a second working group that included the likes of premiership coach Trent Robinson, Canberra CEO Don Furner, Project Apollo head Wayne Pearce and referees Matt Cecchin and Bernard Sutton.
On Monday this week, the senior players then received an email saying that second lobby group had agreed, and would lobby the NRL to reject both changes and instead trial them in a lower grade setting first.
"So it shows how much I know," Green said. "I was against making any changes and they've made two."
Asked how other senior players on the call felt, Green continued: "Everyone was on the same page.
"The players and coaches would prefer to keep the product as it is but we've found out today that won't be the case.
"Going to one referee, I don't have any real problem with that.
"(But) I think the six again will be interesting.
"And I'm not sure how it will look to be honest.
"A couple of things off the top of my head, coming out of our own end I'd probably prefer a penalty.
"If we're 20m from our tryline and we've done a really good job defensively, then earned the right on tackle two, three, four or whatever to get a penalty, I'd prefer to kick the ball 30m downfield and then have an attacking mindset where we can go from a set piece.
"Same as if it's 12-all and we're attacking the tryline - if they're laying all over us I'd prefer to have the penalty and go for two.
"But I'm not sure how all that is going to pan out. It's an unknown."
Green suggested the NRL would be forced to re-asses the rule if things went "pear-shaped", and suggested they may eventually decide to scrap it altogether.
"The commission has to make decisions in the best interest of the game," he said. "So if they think this (six again rule) is the best thing, we can only pick it up and run with it.
"Then if it doesn't work … we have to go back.
"But you can't change it again during the year.
"For the integrity of the competition this year, you can't change it again.
"So that's it.
"If it's an entertaining product and they like what they see, they can keep it in. But if things go pear shaped, it will have to be reassessed."
The Warriors playmaker added that he expected the new rule to have a major bearing on who wins the 2020 NRL grand final.
"I hope it has a positive impact on the game," he said. "And if it brings some more fatigue into the game and we see some more linebreaks - great.
"But it's also important to remember that while people want to be entertained and see tries, there are two sides to rugby league.
"And defence is a big part.
"So while this new rule is attack-based, historically we've seen that the best defensively wins the competition.
"So whoever handles this rule change best defensively will go a long way to winning the premiership."