TONIGHT'S derby clash between Saints and Wigan will the see the much-heralded new rule changes come into play for the first time in a competitive fixture.

A shot clock at scrums and drop-outs, the reduction of interchanges from 10 to eight and Golden Point extra time, should the match be level after 80 minutes, have been introduced to speed up the game and add more drama for spectators.

The shot clock at Saints is attached to the scoreboard and is being used to reducing the number and length of stoppages in matches so that the ball in play.

Teams will be penalised if they fail to beat the shot clock when packing down for a scrum (35 seconds) or drop-outs (30 seconds).

And although the clock will not be visible for kicks at goal, sanctions will also be introduced to ensure no more than 80 seconds of match time is used up for conversion attempts.

In addition, in the last five minutes of each fixture, the clock will automatically be stopped following a penalty or a drop goal that goes out of the field of play, or a conversion – or after a try, if a team chooses not to take the conversion attempt.

That process will be extended if the scores are level at full-time by the introduction of Golden Point extra time, providing two five-minute periods in which to determine a winner.

Apart from the shot-clock the other major change is reducing the number of interchanges from 10 to eight, which will in theory reward the fittest and most mobile players, and provide attacking opportunities for speedy, crafty and skilful to open up tiring defences.

The moves have come in after studies of how the game works in the NRL.

There has been an increasing frustration at the with long, unnecessary delays during our game, which broke momentum and lowered the intensity of play.

Super League games were taking up to two hours of elapsed time - and to underline that the first-half of the Grand Final took 53 minutes; the second-half, 58 minutes.

Worse than that was the worry that for the first time, gamesmanship was becoming a feature in Super League, as players feigned injuries to stop the clock and secure unwarranted time to recover from fatigue, with injuries occurring immediately following a goal-line drop-out or scrum.

Under the shot clock rules at a drop out if a player suffers an injury after the clock has commenced, and the player is unable to re-join play or is preventing play from restarting, then after the shot-clock has counted down to zero seconds (indicated by a buzzer sounding), the player will be required to leave the field of play and either be interchanged, leave the field of play and return once an interchange card is handed over or not return to the field of play until the earlier of the next stoppage (scrum, dropout, 20 metre restart, or a handover) or when their team regains possession.

Super League chief executive Robert Elstone said: “The changes to our rules and laws are there to highlight what’s different and special about Super League. Our competition will get faster, more intense and more dramatic. They will provide our players with an even better platform to show their outstanding athleticism, courage and skill.

“There’s a growing frustration across sport with time-wasting, gamesmanship and a lack of transparency and integrity in time-keeping. We listened to our supporters and commentators, and the changes are focused on emphasising our sport’s key attributes of intensity, relentlessness and integrity.

“There’s so much to look forward to for Super League fans in 2019. We will be entertained by some great new players arriving from the NRL. These players will be tested, week-in, week-out by the ever-growing and ever-more talented crop of young homegrown players, many of whom debuted with such promise and confidence in 2018."