Rule changes add element of intrigue, says Meninga
NEW rules unveiled by the NRL for 2020 will be broken but not to the detriment of the game, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga says.
A captain's challenge rule, used in the All Stars game and NRL trials, is one of the host of innovations set to be a divisive point of difference this season.
Others include the 20/40, the scrum placement and mid-air contact on kick catchers.
The captain's challenge was initially trialled in the under- 20s from 2012 through to 2016.
However, one issue with the system was teams' deliberate use of challenges to slow play, in a bid to wrestle the momentum of the game away from their opponents.
"Rules are meant to be broken and used to advantage a team - (for instance) if you're under pressure, say two points up and trying to wind the clock down," said Meninga, also the football boss at the Titans.
Under the new system, captains have only 10 seconds to make the call, but can challenge anything that results in a structured restart - such as a scrum or penalty - after a stoppage.
Each team gets to challenge only once a game if their first challenge is unsuccessful.
"Fullback and those in the spine will be instrumental, but you only have 10 seconds - it's a pretty quick one," Meninga said.
"When you're in the heat of battle, you do keep up with it.
"If you're involved in the play you definitely have a fair idea.
"Angles of cameras now will pick things up."
Meninga said that when teams decided to use it would be critical.
"I think it can be used in a smart way. You need to be dead sure if you use it early in the game," he said.
"Most clubs would be thinking the back end of the game,
"It certainly adds some intrigue to it."
Broncos great and NRL 360 host Ben Ikin says the additions are a major plus.
"I don't know if there will be strategy - more when a player absolutely knows it's a call which can have a big impact on the game. That's when they'll roll it out," Ikin said.
"I like that players are now part of the problem and the solution - not dumped all on the match officials.
"It's shared accountability.
"It's added a layer of interest too. Any way you can make it more engaging and dramatic and help the officials out, it's a big win for league."
Under the NRL's new rules for 2020, teams can regain possession when they kick the ball from inside their own 20 and find touch past their opponents' 40m line.
But it isn't without risk.
Realistically, teams are most often inside their own 20m zone in set play when they are under immense pressure, with their forwards already on the back foot.
with Scott Bailey