WATCH any game of rugby league from the 1970s and see how simple the process of a player running the ball in, being tackled, regaining his feet and playing the ball used to be.

In fact the only messy part about it was the opportunity for the marker to strike at it.

Actually, maybe it was not that simple.

Anyone at Hilton Park for Saints’ 1987 Lancashire Cup tie will have seen Stuart Evans, the high profile signing from Welsh rugby union, make an absolute dog’s dinner of it.

Each time he was tackled opposite number Derek Pyke would helpfully advise Big Truck where to place the ball and then gleefully hook it away to reclaim possession leaving the big Welshman dumbfounded.

But apart from that, this aspect of play was largely uncontroversial.

The ruck has without a doubt replaced the scrum as the most contentious part of the game.

Given every set starts from the play the ball, whether we like it or not it is THE central part of the game.

But increasingly it does look like an area that will become a running sore again this year.

It should be relatively simple to police.

If a strong running player — say Alex Walmsley or Mose Masoe — puts in a big carry and pokes his nose through the line of attack he should by rights have earned his team the advantage of a quick play the ball.If the defence rattles the ball carrier and is deemed to have won the collision then they, of course, have earned the right to slow it down to get the defence set.

It should not be that teams can simply devise and deploy game-plans to slow the game down, regardless of whether they have won the collision or not.

Countless times on Friday night, with Saints pack dominant, their ball carriers won and yet according to stats provided by the Saints coach Keiron Cunningham, Wakefield outscored them 16-6 in the area of quick play the balls.

He put it quite colourfully stating: “They absolutely mugged us in the ruck.”

You can see his frustration.

Saints have the most potent dummy half runner in James Roby, but so far this term, despite Saints pack being in tip-top form, his attacking statistics are down in that field.

Having been slowed down for the past few weeks, it would be typical of Saints’ luck if the interpretation and policing of the ruck is changed again next Thursday when a Warrington side with such potent dummy half runners — especially Daryl Clark — come to town.