Changes risking NRL its identity: Griffin

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Anthony Griffin has warned the NRL risks losing its identity with continual rule changes, leading the charge against a proposed trial of seven-tackle sets after kicks into touch.

Players and coaches were surprised on Friday by a report which revealed the NRL was considering trialling the change in a final-round match next weekend.

Under an idea put forward by commissioner Wayne Pearce, teams would receive a seven-tackle set if the ball was kicked into touch - a move designed to discourage stoppages in play.

It would be in line with the extra tackle that is already offered for 20-metre restarts when a ball goes dead in goal.

It would not be applicable after 40-20 and 20-40 kicks.

But the suggestion of trialling the rule in the September 5 match between Canterbury and Wests Tigers has already been hit with criticism from St George Illawarra coach Griffin, Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett and Melbourne prop Christian Welch.

After an 18-month period where the game has undergone its most rapid transformation with set restarts since the introduction of limited tackles, Griffin felt enough was enough.

"Before we talk about that I just think we've got to hold up on all the rule changes," Griffin said.

"We've had too many in a short period of time over the last two years. You start to lose the identity of your game. That's the first thing I'd say on it.

"The other thing is I don't agree with it. I think too many times the attack gets rewarded without really earning that in our game.

"To give teams down their end of the field seven tackles to get out of their own end because someone kicks it into touch, I don't see the balance in that."

Barrett was another vocal critic on Friday, insisting the game was quick enough after a season of lopsided scorelines.

"I just think we should leave the game alone, to be honest," Barrett said.

"It's quick enough and we're getting a lot of lopsided scores as it is with huge amounts of possession going to one team in certain periods of the game.

"That will only exaggerate that.

"I don't see why we need to keep changing the rules all the time."

Welch, who is a Rugby League Players Association director, took to Twitter to criticise the idea.

"Please just leave our game alone," he tweeted.

"The tension, grind, pressure & game management almost already gone.

"Would love the commission (to look at) less gimmicking with the rules and more focus on bigger picture strategy."

Welch's club coach Craig Bellamy was more open to the idea, but questioned why rules were brought in to speed up the game at a time when newly-introduced captain's challenges could force stoppages.

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