With the 2019 Super League season almost upon us, players and coaches continue to acclimatise to the rule changes being introduced this season.
The scrapping of the free play and the introduction of golden point will be fairly easy to adjust to but the reduction in interchanges and the shot clock will cause some teams and players to tweak the way they do things – Marc Sneyd being one. “I’ve had to quicken up my goal-kicking routine slightly. We timed some of my conversion attempts from last season and I was 30 seconds over what the limit is now, so that is something I’ve had to work on,” the Hull FC half-back explained. It offers the perhaps overlooked view that sometimes it is simply a player’s routine through goal or place kicking which slows the game down as opposed to simply gamesmanship and time-wasting, the latter two being the main target of the shot clock’s introduction. Nevertheless, Sneyd believes the initiative will be a good thing for the sport, adding that “it quickens the game up. In a lot of the games we played last year, we found if we played at a higher tempo, we’d put in a better performances so teams would automatically try and slow the game down against us. So for us as a team, we’re happy for the changes.”
Wakefield Trinity helmsman Chris Chester has also spoken publically about the changes, suggesting that people doubting his big-men’s ability to handle the reduction in interchanges will blunt the Belle Vue club’s go-forward. “We’ll be able to carry one big bloke, whether we’ll be able to carry Pauli Pauli, Keegan Hirst and David Fifita at the same time, we’ll have to have a look at that as the season goes on,” he outlined, adding that the change in rules doesn’t really concern him. “We’ve got big blokes but on Boxing Day Craig Kopczak played the first 40 minutes straight, Tinirau Arona 30-odd minutes, Craig Huby can play 60, Anthony England can play big minutes while both back rowers and (hookers) Tyler Randell and Kyle Wood can all play 80,” he continued, providing evidence of his belief that his team can adjust effectively to the challenge. Like Sneyd, Chester professed his desire to see the game become more entertaining for fans, explaining that “I think it’s going to be very exciting. I think you’ll see a lot more expansive play.”
Hull FC skipper Danny Houghton, though, while a fan of the shot clock, raised his concern that the introduction of golden point doesn’t prioritise player welfare. “It will create a bit of buzz but we play a lot of games as it is and to include that isn’t great for the player in terms of health,” Houghton said. Golden point’s arrival is by far the most controversial of the new rules and it has led to many rugby league fans on social media bemoaning the adoption of it, questioning why Super League are essentially ignoring the fact that, often, a draw is a perfectly acceptable result after 80 minutes.