Rule changes will affect recruitment, says Super League coach

James Gordon

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf says the rule changes being brought in to Super League will affect player recruitment moving forward.

The six-again rule is the highest profile change, following its successful introduction in the NRL, which gives referees the option to call for a set restart for infringements around the ruck.

It’s made a significant difference to the speed of the game, and will suit certain players more than others.

Some coaches have questioned the timing of its introduction, with the six-again rule the headline change, along with the removal of scrums.

Woolf said: “We’re going to have to adjust. It’s going to affect recruitment going forward, no doubt about that.

“We’ll have to wait and see exactly what the new rules look like. We’ll get a real gauge of it in the early rounds.

“We all have an opinion of how it will change things. To be honest, some of the players I thought might struggle haven’t, and some players I thought would have a big impact have had probably an even bigger impact in some ways in the NRL.

“That’s been a surprise. Guys like Addin Fonua-Blake, who’s a very big man, the rules have actually enhanced his game and he’s probably the leading prop in that competition.

“Jason Taumalolo is 118kg, he’s certainly still just as effective, running over 300 metres in games. In that sense, it hasn’t affected the big men as people thought it would, so it’ll be interesting to see how it affects things over here.”

More on six-again and rule changes

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Those players quick around dummy half, like Saints’ own James Roby and particularly Warrington’s Daryl Clark, are tipped to be beneficiaries of the rule changes, but it adds intrigue to the restart of Super League.

A buzzer will sound within the stadium to signify the set restart, with all currently scheduled games played behind closed doors and live on Sky Sports.

Woolf added: “The players in the 1/6/7/9 positions are going to enjoy it. There’s a bit more freedom around the ruck, the speed at the play the ball, and it creates more fatigue.

“Instead of getting six plays to attack, they’re going to get 8/9/10 plays. If you play in those key positions, the rule really suits you. In the NRL, it’s certainly brought those players in to the game more and those are the ones that are standing out.”