SAINTS' friendly against Huddersfield Giants was a bit of a shock to the system.

Admittedly the cold probably addled my brain a bit, but the whistle was blown so many times I thought I was listening to One Man and His Dog.

It was stop-start to the point of tedium but was clearly designed to hammer out a message for the season ahead.

The reason for the 34 sharp blasts from whistle-blower Steve Ganson was the directive to speed up the play the balls.

Having endured the dire spectacle that masqueraded as Super League XIV in 2009 - which turned every tackle into a cross between a bout of submission wrestling and a schoolyard game of all-pile on - there will probably be relief among some quarters at Saints.

And after all Saints have one of the finest practitioners of scooting out of dummy half and putting the opposition on the back foot in the shape of the fleet-footed England hooker James Roby.

But keep the corks back in the bottle for now until we see have how this instruction is executed.

Speed does not necessarily mean excitement and flowing football.

My first issue would be seeing games turned into a repeat of what happened on Monday, with the refs blasting teams who find it hard to grasp what is expected of them after the tackle.

Such penalties punish the culprits – but to be honest they can also stop the attacking team a chance of building any real momentum.

But let’s assume that every club will do as the refs want and these 17 stone blokes will jump off and clear the ruck after each tackle has been completed.

What will the attacking team do?

The dummy half is clearly not going to give it to the half back to let him fan the ball wide.

No, he is going to scoot upfield, running at a succession of back-pedalling defenders and then, assuming none of those give away a penalty for offside, he will give it to the nearest big bloke up in support.

It will be route one, potentially one man rugby and don’t be surprised if there is plenty of finding the floor early to get another quick play the ball and repeat the process another four or five times.

It is a rule interpretation that benefits power teams who can rumble down the middle.

You don’t have to visit Mystic Meg to tell you that is what will happen, simply read any rugby league yearbook from the last time we went for quick play the balls.

The 2003 season started so promisingly for Saints, then the defending champions, and with the nippy Mickey Higham jumping off the bench to operate from dummy half we looked set to prosper from the rules.

But our front row was short of props and filled out with converted back rowers, Mike Bennett, Tim Jonkers and John Stankevitch and so Saints won nothing.

Bradford, with Paul Anderson, Jamie Peacock, Stuart Fielden, Joe Vagana and Lee Radford, being teed up by Jimmy Lowes simply stampeded all-comers that year to win the double.

It was not pretty to watch so if we do go into the season with the latest somersault on the ruck adopted don’t expect speed to equate to thrills.