‘Rule changes will make Super League better – I’d have loved to play under them’

Betfred Super League is set for two major rule changes when it returns – and I’d have loved to have played under them.

The removal of scrums is an enforced one to limit the transmission of Covid-19, while the “six again” rule that restarts the tackle count instead of awarding penalties at the play-the-ball is coming from Australia’s NRL.

Both have still to be formally confirmed, and will be considered by the RFL board early next month.

Taking scrums away will certainly speed things up, although I’m not sure I’d like to see them scrapped permanently.

I still think they provide great attacking opportunities where you’re effectively playing seven on seven in a full field, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I really like what I’ve seen of “six again” in the NRL – it’s eliminated a lot of the wrestling on the floor and kept the game flowing.

Our game is based on power but also on mental toughness and attritional warfare, and this rule adds to that.

They are the kind of characteristics that other sports admire about rugby league so enhancing them is a positive.

I would have loved the challenge that provides – it’s tough in the middle anyway in rugby league, but having to defend, 10, 11 or 12 tackle sets with no break will be a real test.

It means that players coming back after several months out will have to make sure that their fitness levels are as high as possible.

But one positive out of this year’s disruption is that time and time again we’ve bemoaned the fact that our top players don’t have a long enough break.

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That’s true – but those players have now had an enforced long spell with no matches.

What I think we’ll see when Super League returns is a lot of very fresh, fit players who will be in peak condition come the end of the season rather than having played 35 games.

It should make for fantastic play-offs and Grand Final.

This week we’ve seen two England props heading in different directions, with Luke Thompson joining Canterbury in Australia and James Graham set to return to St Helens for the rest of the year.

I’m pleased for Luke – he wanted to test himself in the NRL, it will be a real mental challenge for him to play at a high intensity every week but he’s more than capable of it.

And it will be great to have James Graham back in Super League – he’s a big character and it feels like the right time.

*** Betfred – Passionate about rugby league ***

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