Leeds Rhinos boss Richard Agar gives his view on Super League's proposed new laws

Leeds Rhinos will adapt to any new rules brought into Betfred Super League, coach Richard Agar says.

Wednesday, 17th June 2020, 6:00 am

The Rugby Football League (RFL) laws committee has recommended abolishing scrums for the rest of 2020, on health grounds.

It also suggested the northern hemisphere game follows the lead set by Australia’s NRL in introducing a ‘six again’ rule for infringements around the ruck and a play-the-ball, instead of a scrum, following kicks out on the full.

Rhinos won four of their five league matches before the competition was suspended due to Covid-19 and Agar insisted his team will have little trouble adapting to any change to the way the game is played.

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Richard Agar. Picture by Steve Riding.

“Whatever they tell us is the rules, is the rules,” Agar stressed.

“If they say we are changing the rules, we will get on with it.

“We have got an adaptable bunch of players and whatever they say, we will do.”

The ‘six again’ law - restarting the tackle count, rather than stopping play for a penalty - was introduced by the NRL two rounds into their season, following the coronavirus layoff.

Scrums could be removed for the rest of this season. Picture from the 2017 Grand Final by Bruce Rollinson.

Super League reached round seven before the shutdown - almost a quarter of the way through the campaign - and Agar reckons the best policy is to monitor how the change works, rather than jumping straight in.

He said: “The general consensus from the coaches’ meeting the other day was why don’t we wait and see, have a look and see if it has a positive impact or a negative impact?

“I don’t think you’ll garner that after one or two rounds of football. I’d ask what are the reasons the NRL has brought it in?

“The school of thought is it is to eliminate some of the wrestle from the game, to free it up and get a bit more free-flowing football and a bit more adlib play.

Rob Lui makes a break against Warrington - the sort of action the six-again rule could promote. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“It’s only my opinion, but I am not sure we have those problems.

“I am not sure teams aren’t prepared to play and offload and pass the ball over here. I think they are.

“The wrestle exists over here and if ‘six to go’ gets rid of elements of the wrestle, that’s great.

“I am happy for the wrestle not to be as prominent in the game, though I don’t think it is here as much as it is in the NRL and there are ways around it when you’re attacking.

“I would say that is potentially a good thing. They are not going to totally eradicate it, but I’d say let’s wait and see and have a look how it impacts the spectacle of the game over a period of weeks.

“It hasn’t been spoken about over here, they [the NRL] have done it and a week or two later we want to do it. But have we got the same issues or problems?”

Agar said he would “urge caution” over changes to scrums.

The proposal to abolish them this year is based on health advice, but the other changes would bring Super League in line with the NRL.

Agar warned: “With the six to go rule there’s going to be a few more sets and it will keep the ball in play longer.

“Getting rid of scrums, if it is a straight handover that really would increase the speed of the game and the amount of sets and then I think there would be a significant change to the way the game looks.

“It perhaps knocks out of kilter the balance. I still think you should have reward for being a good defensive team.”

The Leeds boss believes the number of interchanges would need to increase if scrums were axed.

“If it is for health reasons it is very difficult to argue,” he added.

“But I’d suggest if the ball is in play more it will increase the number of tackles someone has to make. Danny Houghton [the Hull hooker] for instance, his 50 tackles per game might become 70 so does that increase his close contact?”

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