AUSTRALIA’s NRL have brought in a raft of rule changes ahead of their 2021 campaign – including the introduction of two-point drop goals for kicks outside of the 40 metres zone.

Drop goals are currently worth just one point in both sides of the rugby league world having been reduced from two in 1971 in Australia and in 1974 in Britain.

Drop goals were reduced to one in Britain – largely after Alex Murphy as a player and player-coach had made full use of it, particularly at Wembley in 1971 and 1974.

The full changes are:

  • The introduction of a two-point drop goal for kicks taken from more than 40 metres out Six-again to be called for 10-metre infringements.
  • Penalties for teams if they leave a scrum before a referee calls “break”
  • A play-the-ball restart if the ball or player with the ball goes over the sideline.
  • The Bunker will now review replays after an on-field referee awards a try but a conversion attempt will not be allowed until it gets the green light.
  • Injured players will be interchanged if a trainer asks for play to be stopped.
  • When a captain’s challenge is inconclusive a team will not be docked for an unsuccessful attempt.
  • A handover will be ordered when a player does not make a genuine attempt to play the ball correctly with their foot.

The two-point drop goal will be a talking point, but the moves to stop injured players from timewasting or stopping play when teams are on the attack could be welcomed – as long as player welfare is not compromised.

It has long been a bug-bear when players need treatment in play when their side has conceded a drop out.

Super League have already stated that it will review its own rule changes, including scrums and 'six agains' – brought in after the post-lockdown restart – during the off-season.