NRL 2022, rule changes, six again, penalties, trainers, Andrew Johns opinion

Rugby league legend Andrew Johns has commended the NRL for tweaking the controversial six-again rule.

The governing body announced the changes on Wednesday, after realizing a problem that plagued the 2021 season.

The six-again rule was dreamed up by Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys, and gives the referee an option to restart a set mid-play for offside or ruck infringements, rather than blow a penalty.

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The idea was to reduce stoppages and introduce more attacking play into the NRL.

But teams began exploiting the rule last season. Coaches figured out by giving away six-agains early in a set – by being offside in defense or slowing the play-the-ball – they could slow down the play, rather than speeding it up, and give defenders more time to get back onside .

Penrith gave away the most six-agains inside the opposition’s half, and the Panthers won the competition. The teams who were good at exploiting the rule had a clear advantage.

Now the NRL says six-agains can only be awarded when the team in possession is beyond their own 40-meter line, and a penalty must be awarded if they are inside their defensive 40 meters.

“I think that’s a good rule change,” Johns told Wide World of Sports.

“I think towards the end of the year people watching the game could see the way players were manipulating the rule. Unfortunately it was going to keep happening.

“Well done to the NRL for changing that. I think it will be an advantage to teams.

“Teams really like to attack from set starts, especially from penalties. If you’re getting legged up out of your area and you’ve got a set start it’s a big advantage for a team.”

The change Joey would make at Melbourne

It’s hoped the rule tweak can help narrow the divide between the NRL’s best and worst teams. Some blowout scorelines last year were a major cause for concern.

“We’ll probably have to wait a few weeks, watch half a dozen rounds to see how it hinders or helps other teams,” Johns said.

“It was a planned move, obviously, by Penrith.”

It was not the only rule change announced by the NRL today.

Club trainers will no longer be able to call a stop to play for injuries, aside from head injuries.

It comes after several incidents last year saw games halted when trainers ran onto the field to attend to an injured player, and demanded the game be stopped which cause uproar.

“Once again it’s a way that the coaches manipulated the rules, trying to find that small percentage to get that edge,” Johns said.

“But you could see teams doing it towards the end of the year, and it was really frustrating. Really frustrating watching the game as a fan.”

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