'Coaches will be unhappy': NRL clubs warned about new rule

NRL Head of Football Graham Annesley says the six-again rule will help the game flow. Pic: AAP

NRL head of football Graham Annesley has told coaches to adapt or face the consequences of the competition's new six-again rule.

The new rule means when the league resumes next week, referees will restart the tackle count for ruck infringements rather than awarding penalties.

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A penalty can still be awarded, however, after multiple infringements.

Annesley is confident the rule will encourage referees to call out infringements, as they won't have to worry about stopping the game or rising penalty counts.

"The referees shouldn't feel the same level of pressure about blowing penalties because the penalty count is starting to mount," Annesley told AAP.

"It's about trying to keep the game as continuous as possible and allow the referees to stay out of the game as much as possible."

A crackdown on ruck infringements at the start of the 2018 season was heavily criticised after it brought about high penalty counts and a fear referees were dominating games and interrupting play.

In response the crackdown was abandoned by the NRL later in the campaign but Annesley said he would be unsympathetic to any such complaints from players and coaches affected by the latest rule change.

"Of course coaches will be unhappy with a lot of things during the course of the year and particularly losing," he said.

"That's the thing that makes them the most unhappy but the rules are very clear and the coaches have had plenty of warning about the changes.

"I'm sure they've been working very hard on how they're going to deal with it but the best way to avoid criticism of action taken by referees is not offend in the first place."

Referees drop strike action threat

Meantime, Annesley confirmed the league's referees ended their dispute with the NRL over the scrapping of the pocket official would be scrapped for the rest of the 2020 season.

The referees decided to drop a threat of industrial action that threatened to jeopardise the season restart, calling off arbitration that was set for the weekend.

"The thing I need to make absolutely clear is that it was the referees themselves that ultimately decided last night not to continue with the dispute," Annesley said.

"They didn't want to be the focus of attention over the course of this weekend in arbitration. They didn't want to be the focus of attention leading in to the start of the competition next week and they had the best interests of the game at heart when they made their decision to accept the single referee model for the remainder of this year."

For this year, 22 full-time referees will be employed and the one referee system will be reviewed by a working committee of players, coaches, referees and management before a decision is made on what model will be adopted for 2021.

Annesley said the NRL was "not concerned" about their relationship with referees following the dispute.