Leeds Rhinos coach Rohan Smith has warned that some of the new law changes being introduced into Super League for 2024 could be a ‘sapper’ to the game, and has suggested that the sport could become much slower as a spectacle as a result.
The Rhinos defeated Hull Kingston Rovers on Sunday in James Donaldson’s testimonial match at Headingley, in a game which also saw the introduction of a video refereeing bunker – something which will become commonplace at all Super League fixtures in 2024.
The video officials were at a remote refereeing base and were able to intervene on various decision-making processes throughout the course of the game, something all players and coaches have been briefed on throughout pre-season.
But, speaking after the game, Smith admitted Sunday’s game was a ‘stop-start’ affair due to the amount of penalties in the game – and he also warned that if the video referees continue to intervene at the same rate as they did on Sunday, it will impact the sport’s spectacle.
“Most of the players came off saying they didn’t get much con(ditioning) benefit,” he said. “It was very stop-start and that will be the case while teams concede penalties. We need to be a bit cleaner in some of our D, but overall we’ve been a clean defensive team – you guys have pointed that out at times. We were still punished today, harshly at times I thought, but it lacked the flow.
“The video referee intervening for penalties and off-the-ball stuff, that’s going to be a real sapper to the game, I reckon. It’s going to stop the flow of the game, I think the match review committee can deal with that stuff, keep the game going. But if that’s the way it goes, the games are going to be slow and both teams would say that after today, I imagine.”