Referees boss Robert Finch has warned of a crackdown on NRL players chasing down kicks from an offside position this year.
This will be an interesting change to the game for 2010, with almost every team guilty of having their forwards head down field early before the ball was kicked.
While the early chasers or the ‘down town’ play as it’s called was only penalised if the chasers came within the 10 metres – it seems this year Finch has instructed the referees to blow a penalty on any occasion where the chasers leave before the ball is kicked.
Whats even more interesting, is that if a penalty is given – it will be awarded from where the ball is kicked, not where it lands – which would heap even more pressure on the guilty team.
The move by Finch is apparently designed to give fullbacks and wingers more opportunity to strut their stuff, without having to deal with offside chasers.
Of the current sides in the competition, you would expect the likes of Billy Slater (Storm), Jarryd Hayne (Eels), Lachlan Coote/Jarrod Sammut (Panthers), Brett Stewart (Manly) and possbily Todd Carney (Roosters) if he plays fullbacks.
These types of players have good pace, but are also elusive with their quality weaving skills – additional space from kick returns would allow these players to become even more dynamic, giving their team a big edge.
The same could be said for wingers to a lesser degree, with wingers having slightly less room to work in.
In other suggestions raised at the referees conference, Wests coach Tim Sheens suggest changes to scrum defensive positioning.
Making the point that 10m deep defence lines would improve the spectacle of the game, as would allowing the scrum to be fed from either side – not just the blind side.
While welcomed, Sheens’ suggestion would need to be ratified by the international Rugby League governing body – which would require testing and a longer approval process, so it’s something to look at prior to 2011.