NRL should restart competition: Pay

Matt Encarnacion and Melissa Woods
Bulldogs coach Dean Pay says the NRL season should start from scratch due to a key rule change

Canterbury coach Dean Pay is the latest to hit out at the decision to revert back to one referee, saying all teams should restart the NRL season on zero points.

Pay's criticism comes after the league this week controversially opted to revert back to one referee and introduce a six-again call for ruck infringements.

The rule change will be hastily introduced when the season resumes on May 28, kickstarting a competition reduced to 20 rounds because of the coronavirus.

"We're back to a 20-round competition, we've gone from two refs to one ref now. And then we've had a major rule change in that as well," Pay said on Friday.

"For us, for me, it certainly looks like a different competition from the one that we started with at the start of the year.

"I can't see why we can't have every team back starting from zero points."

St George Illawarra counterpart Paul McGregor questioned the timing of the decision, as well as possible loopholes around the rule.

Referees will restart the tackle count for a ruck infringement, and will have the discretion to award a penalty for multiple indiscretions.

It is likely to lead to the eradication of the penalty goal, as well as teams earning the opportunity to kick downfield following a penalty.

McGregor believes the radical change will benefit his team, who ranked equal-third best in penalties conceded in 2019.

"Selfishly, if I look at the Dragons, we give the least amount of penalties away in holding people down," McGregor said.

"We've got two really experienced nines in (Issac Luke) and (Cameron McInnes) that can take advantage of the six-to-go.

"And we've got a mobile footy team that can defend it. For us, it's good."

Cronulla counterpart John Morris supported the reasoning behind the decision by ARLC chair Peter V'landys, who said it would reduce the wrestling in the ruck.

But, like McGregor, he is waiting to be briefed by NRL officials on the various implications of the six-again rule.

Morris also claimed that clubs are unlikely to get referees into their bubble to simulate game intensity due to biosecurity measures.

"We normally get them in a couple of times a week to referee our scrimmages and arm wrestles, just to help with their interpretations and how they control the game," he said.

"We haven't had that and probably won't, so we've had our own trainers out trying to get the new rule into the way we play the game.

"We managed it pretty good today. They handled it OK but there's still confusion around what constitutes six again."