Rugby league legend Peter Sterling has expressed concern over the latest batch of rule changes in the NRL, saying the game risks becoming too lopsided.
“I am very tired of rule changes or interpretation changes,” he told Wide World of Sports.
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“We’ve had more changes in our game in this regard in the last ten years than in the last 90 years, and I don’t think it’s been particularly beneficial.”
One of the most notable changes has been the removal of most melee games, with teams starting with a play-the-ball instead after a kick goes over the sideline.
Sterling said that while the fast and offensive rugby league should be encouraged, we can’t come to a point where it becomes unfair to defenders.
“Our game is all about offense and defense – we don’t want it to be a 50/50 split, we want it to be around 60/40 for the attacking team. But when it starts to be more than that , so I have serious concerns for our game – and I think we’re really pushing that line, ”Sterling said.
“It’s all about attacking. And the problem for the defensive team is that there is so little opportunity to stop the momentum.”
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The former Eels half-back said attacking sets near the try line risked becoming a given.
“If I’m a coach I make sure my kicker is practicing short withdrawals. Now is an opportunity to create a contest and turn things around, and there aren’t many,” Sterling said.
“It’s so hard to stop attacking teams now, and I’m afraid it gets too steep. We love fatigue and we love open football.”
He also compared the new field-goal rule, which would see a successful attempt from outside the 40-yard line worth two points, to the 20/40 rule, in that attempts will be rare.
“We won’t see one. We might see one 30 seconds before half-time, but again, why are we looking to change? I don’t see the point in trying to encourage more goals on the pitch, ”Sterling said.
“My mentality, and I’m not saying we should introduce this, is why don’t we look to try to score with a ball game in your half of the field worth five instead of four? one extra point for a dropping goal. “
He did, however, make special mention of 40/20 and the removal of corner posts as notable rule changes that should be benchmarks for administrators going forward.
“If every rule we could introduce were as smart and successful as these, we would be in a great position,” Sterling said.
“We are bringing in things that just put pressure and confusion in the game, and it doesn’t have to be.
“Everything you change has a ripple effect. And I don’t think we have enough knowledge about those effects, because often we get rid of those effects a season or two later.”
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