Given that the NRL now has several new rule changes in place, Broncos, QLD and Australian five-eighth has sent a warning to all NRL players to ensure that they follow the rules, and play smartly to avoid any lingering confrontations with the referees about the new rules.
The play-the-ball area and the markers are just two of the areas that the NRL will come down harder on, as they ensure to enforce the new rules they have implemented quickly and confidently, so that players can become adapted to them as quickly as possible.
Like any rule change in any sport however, there are going to be both players and coaches that are displeased at the changes that have been made, but for Lockyer, he feels that the changes are long overdue, and that they will only help the game continue to grow.
He expects that in light of the new rules, we might just see more penalties than usual in the trial games, but he hopes that the players have understood the new changes in time for Round 1.
“It’s about getting players back in the right habits in the play-the-ball area,” said Lockyer on Thursday.
“It was becoming a big concern that a lot of guys weren’t playing the ball with their foot. They were stepping off the mark, moving sideways and milking penalties because the marker wasn’t square.
“I’m in favour of tidying that area up. It’s important because if we just keep letting that go it will just keep getting worse.”
Lockyer has also warned players to expect constant reminding from the referees about the new rules, as they ensure that the players understand them in time.
“We could even see some results decided on those sorts of penalties because that’s the only way it’s going to sink in (with the players),” he said.
For Brisbane coach Ivan Henjak, he says that is up to players themselves to adapt to the new rule changes, and kick any niggling defensive habits they may have to the curb.
“As long as the referees stay consistent, I haven’t got an issue with it,” Henjak said on Thursday.
“We’ve got time to adjust with the trial games.
“There could be some coaches not real happy in the first few weeks if there’s a lot of penalties blown and there could be some penalties that swing games for something that is not a mortal sin.
“They (the referees) want to go back to the basics and what the laws of the game are and I can understand that.”