‘We get plenty of unnecessary rule changes’: Origin star bemused by NRL dropping dropout penalty


Ben Hunt has warned the NRL’s new rules around line dropouts risk making the game more predictable, labelling the changes from head office unnecessary.

The NRL announced new rules regarding kick-offs and line dropouts on Wednesday, which remove the penalty if it doesn’t go 10 metres or goes out on the full.

The receiving team will now be handed a play-the-ball 10 metres out from where the kick was taken and 10 metres in from touch.

The NRL said in a statement it wanted to pursue a “more free-flowing and unpredictable game.”

But St George Illawarra captain Hunt and his coach Shane Flanagan warned it would likely have the opposite impact.

Hunt said it would now prompt teams to almost always take short dropouts, particularly given it is often easier to defend from a set start on their own line.

“Obviously they’re trying to get teams to go for short dropouts nearly every time. You’d be silly if you don’t,” Hunt said. “Teams will just go for short dropouts every single time.

“I don’t know (if it’s a good thing), I’m a bit undecided on that. I like the fact that teams go for short dropouts, but I don’t think we needed to change the rule. There needs to be a penalty if you get your kick wrong.

“I feel like it’s unnecessary, but we get plenty of unnecessary rule changes so we just roll with it.”

Hunt also said there would be a push away from attempting to force repeat sets, a trend he had noted in recent years with the rise in attempted short dropouts.

Ben Hunt. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Flanagan added he would prefer to be given the penalty than a structured restart against the corner of the sideline.

“Sides are just going to have a crack at it now because there’s no penalty for not getting it right,” Flanagan said as the Dragons announced Squadron Energy as their new major sponsor.

“There’ll be a lot of shorter, along the ground, powerful kicks trying to find the touchline because the refs aren’t going to march over and give you a penalty. I like a bit of tradition in the game, and that’s an art to do a short dropout.

“But in the back of your mind, you know that if you don’t get it to go 10 metres then you’re going to give the opposition two points.”

The NRL also announced a spectator code of conduct on Thursday in a bid to stamp out abuse and misbehaviour of fans. The league was required to ban a fan last year when Latrell Mitchell was racially abused at Penrith in round two.

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