NRL referees ready for ‘six again’ tactics

NRL Head of Football, Graham Annesley, admits coaches may be looking at tactics to avoid the fatigue created by the new ‘six again’ rule.

Instead of blowing for full penalties for ruck infringements, the sole NRL referee can now just wave for a new set not allowing the guilty players to have a rest and reset.

But Annesley knows that the coaches will be looking at ways they can avoid the repercussions of the new rule.

“I’m not being critical of coaches, their job is to win,” he said.

‘The most obvious areas where they can try to have an impact on the six-again rule and the continuity of the game is by infringing in the 10 metres and by infringing in the marker area,” Annesley said on Monday.

“We saw a number of full penalties over the weekend where markers weren’t marking up squarely.

“The 10 metres will come under more and more pressure as teams try to shut down opposition attack so the referees are alert to that.

“If clubs want to roll the dice on that, they do it at their own peril.

“Referees have to be strong enough to identify when those sorts of tactics are being employed, and they have to react accordingly.”

53 new sets were called instead of blowing for penalties in Round three of the NRL meaning the ball was in play for almost three minutes longer per game and the average play-the-ball speed was 0.21 seconds quicker than the opening two rounds before the game was suspended.

“One of the benefits of this rule is that the referees don’t feel under the same pressure to award penalties or to not award penalties.

“Particularly in very important parts of the field and in very important parts of the game.

“Yes we’ve seen more ruck infringements, but that’s one of the objectives, to try and clean up the ruck area.

“The referees are not under the same pressure to not award penalties. They’re encouraged to rule on those ruck infringements without actually stopping the game.

“They don’t feel as restricted in allowing six-again as they would if they had to award penalties.”