Like it or lump it on wrestling

NRL hierarchy deems it a rule interpretation, but limiting the time defenders have to clear the ruck in 2015 is definitely a change to the rules of the game.

But it's a change most fans will greet with a 'yippee' reaction.

In December all 16 NRL coaches attended a conference and at the conclusion of that get-together - reportedly - they were told no rule changes would be introduced for the season ahead.

However, a subsequent meeting of the NRL's competition committee - of which coaches Wayne Bennett and Trent Robinson are members - agreed the game needed to stamp out wrestling.

Hence the semantics, and use of the word 'interpretation' by the NRL bosses.

As fans we don't care about the orchestration of this decision.

What is important is that finally those who run rugby league have moved to stamp out the most detestable part of the game - the wrestle.

What has evidently annoyed 14 of the 16 coaches is not being advised of the modifications until just before Christmas, whereas Bennett and Robinson were aware three weeks prior.

Why all coaches were not notified earlier is a good question but - really - is that critical?

The bottom line is that our game is hopefully about to be rid of sickening on-field acts such as the chicken wing, the crusher, the cannonball et al.

It's no secret that Storm coach Craig Bellamy is fingered as the architect of the wrestle, and many other subsequent subtleties aimed at slowing down the play the ball.

And while Melbourne has probably best perfected these arts, I'm not convinced he is totally to blame.

Irrespective of who was the leader, every other NRL coach during the past decade can cop part of the blame because they have followed.

Lying all over players, rolling them on their backs, bending their torsos, applying the choker hold, twisting their arms and legs - these dangerous tactics have gradually crept into a game that was once very simple to play.

Albeit sometimes slowly, authorities have done their best to rid rugby league of these traits and this latest fine tune is another attempt.

And no doubt some coaches - like Ross Strudwick back in the '80s - will endeavour to flout the new guidelines.

Strudwick was coach of Brisbane Valleys when the pre-season tournament was played under an experimental unlimited tackle rule.

In protest, he ordered his players not to pass the ball, but to run from dummy half all game, which they did.

That won't happen this time, but quick play the balls will result and, optimistically, the game will open and more attacking football be played.

And if the 14 protesting coaches don't like that, they should go find another game.



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