Wakefield Trinity boss Daryl Powell keen to avoid “embarrassing” aspect of new rugby league interpretation around the ruck

WAKEFIELD TRINITY head coach Daryl Powell has given his verdict on the new emphasis around the play-the-ball for the 2024 season.

The RFL, in a statement late last year, announced that there would be a crackdown on the ruck area: “Players, coaches and match officials have agreed to see greater sanction for flops, hands on the ball-by-ball carriers and to ensure that ball carriers regain their feet on the mark and make a genuine attempt to play the ball with the foot.”

In pre-season so far, the new emphasis has been in full view with teams awarded turnovers on a number of occasions due to not playing the ball with the foot.

For Powell, he is keen to change his players’ habits.

“The squeezing up of the laws are stated, you have to touch the ball with the foot and you have to be square at marker. It’s just the interpretation of the referees.

“It is what it is and we have worked hard on being square in training. I’m constantly telling the boys that they aren’t square, I am talking about it all the time.

“We gave four turnovers away from not touching the foot on the ball against Leeds, it’s a habit. We are trying to change the habits and the boys are getting better in practice. Getting into the heat of battle, you might get some.”

That being said, Powell is also eager to avoid a penalty-a-thon and a slower game as a result of the increased policing of the ruck area.

“But I’d like to see a cleaner ruck, I don’t like people stepping forward and impacting markers. You shouldn’t be able to step over the ball so I get it.

“I just don’t want to see the game go away. We will deal with a load of stuff next year and this will be a different conversation next year but you don’t want to see 50 penalties in a game.

“I watched academy rugby games last year at times and it was embarrassing. We need to just get the balance right.”

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