NRL coaches support bunker rule change

Coaches Des Hasler and Todd Payten are supportive of having the bunker given authority to deny tries without being called upon by the on-field official.

DES HASLER
DES HASLER Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

NRL coaches have thrown their support behind the NRL empowering its referees to back their judgement in try scoring situations by making an adjustment in the use of the bunker.

The league this week trialled a handful of potential rule changes in two separate dead rubber games, including Sunday's contest between the Warriors and Manly.

Other experimental changes included the use of the six-again rule for 10-metre infringements, possession handover when kicks go into touch, and forcing forwards to pack down in scrums.

Warriors caretaker coach Todd Payten, who will take over at North Queensland next season, rued a missed attacking opportunity with the scrum in a game he said was played at a noticeably faster pace.

"It sped the game up a little bit," Payten said.

"They put a scrum there on the 10-metre line and we put something very similar into practice where we'd start on the 10, get to the second defender on the scrum and come back potentially at all forwards with a bit of shape. They nearly scored off that play.

"There's a little bit to work with there if you want to manipulate it in some way, but I don't think that rule as such has a particular effect on the game whereas the others did."

In the other dead rubber clash between Brisbane and North Queensland, a try was denied by the bunker despite being originally awarded by the on-field officials.

Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler said it was the only rule change he saw merit in applying in the future.

"The bunker seemed to be OK. The other two won't. I don't see the point. It won't have much impact on the game," he said.

Hasler was also left to bemoan one of the most disappointing campaigns in his coaching career, with his team conceding over 25 points per game to finish in 13th spot on the ladder.

Not since his second season as a head coach at Manly in 2005 has a Hasler-coached team leaked more points.

"Put it in perspective, that's the first thing we'll do. We'll pull it apart and work on those things we need to adjust, and go from there," Hasler said of his team's poor campaign.

Asked about their defensive woes in particular, he said: "Last couple of games we haven't been good but it's only been 18 games so you can't really call it a full season."