Canberra coach Ricky Stuart admits the NRL’s controversial six-again rule has restored his faith in rugby league by bringing the halves back into the game.
Stuart gave the radical rule change the tick of approval after it was implemented for the first time in Parramatta’s win over Brisbane on Thursday night.
He believes the new interpretation has eliminated players from pretending to get their legs and hands locked that resulted in a wrestle at the ruck.
“You could see players, once they got into the game, they were a little more nervous in thinking, ‘will I put my hand on the ball?’” Stuart said on Friday.
“Will I try and slow the slow that the ruck down? Will I look at a lever to try and hold the player into a position on the ground where he can’t get up to play it as quick?
“That seemed to disappear, which opened up the play the ball (and) got the ball flowing a little bit more freely.”
Stuart, who also hailed the move back to one referee, said the adjustments have allowed for the game’s little men to light up the contest in attack.
The former Kangaroos halfback credited Parramatta’s halves duo of Mitchell Moses and Dylan Brown for taking advantage of the open space.
And he expects more of the same going forward.
“I was really losing faith in the game,” Stuart said.
“I was getting annoyed and watching rugby league because I thought there was just too much mess in the actual collision or after the collision.
“The game is still all about collision, you can see that last night.
“Every football team has skilful attacking players. The way it was last night, if that’s the theme now, I think you’re going to see a very smart, open game of football.
“And that’s the product we want.”
Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire said he wanted to see a bigger sample size before declaring the move a success.
“We’ve got to see how it goes forward. You need a few games,” he said, before also praising referee Gerard Sutton.
“He reffed quite a lot of international games with one ref and State of Origin, so he understands the flow of the game. They all do.
“But until we start seeing a few of them in that same situation and how the games pan out, that will tell a bit more of a story.
“If it looks like it did last night that’s a positive on where we’re going.”