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New All Stars rule changes

NRL All Stars captain Benji Marshall admitted to his Indigenous All Stars rivals tonight that the experimental “power play” will be hard to stop when it is trialled for the first time in Saturday’s third annual Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast.

Marshall made the comment at Jupiters Hotel & Casino at the All Stars Teams Dinner for all six teams playing in the two curtain-raisers and the main game - the Under 16 NSW and Qld Indigenous boys teams; the Jillaroos and Indigenous Women’s All Stars sides; and both the NRL and Learn Earn Legend! Indigenous All Stars.

“We tried defending during a power play at training the other day and it was hard to stop,” Marshall said.

“It will make for open footy. I think all three rules being trialled are interesting and I am looking forward to seeing how they work.”

Three modified rules will be trialled: changes to penalties in the ruck area; 20/50 kicks in play; and the power play.

The 20/50 kicks in play rule was initially for 20/40 kicks when first announced in December but was changed after further reviews and training experiments.

NRL Director of Football Operations Nathan McGuirk said: “The change was made simply to try and provide a greater incentive to players to try what will be a risky play coming out of their own 20m area.”

In another All Stars innovation, the match referees - Ashley Klein, Jason Robinson, Phil Haines and Gerard Sutton - will be wired as normal but they will also have the added task of broadcasting their calls through the PA system to help explain the new rules being trialled.

20/50 kicks in play
- A team which kicks the ball from within their own 20m area and can successfully find touch within the 50m area of the defending team will receive the feed to the ensuing scrum.

Changes to Penalties in the Ruck Area
- For infringements in the ruck area by the defending team (holding down, leg pull, hand on ball etc.) which does not result in the breakdown of play (i.e. drop ball),  the referee will indicate the infringement followed by immediately restarting the tackle count at the point of the infringement with a zero tackle.
- There will be no kick for touch for these infringements. Play will continue immediately from the point of the infringement. 
- Any foul play in the ruck area by the defending team will result in a traditional penalty.
- Any infringement by the attacking team in the ruck area will result in a traditional penalty.

Power Play
- Each team will receive one (1) optional power play in each half of the match.
- Once a team captain nominates to the match referee that they wish to use their power play for the half at a stoppage in play (Changeover, scrum, penalty etc), the opposition team must immediately drop two (2) players from the field of play for a 5 minute period (11 players on the field of play).  
- If the team who called the power play scores a try during this period, the power play will end immediately and the two players who left the field may return.   
- Players returning to the field of play must do so under the supervision of the interchange official.
- The team defending the power play will make the decision which two players leave the field from their team during the power play.
- Once a power play has been called, the opposition team may not call their power play at the same time.  If both teams call a power play at the same time, the team about to receive possession will be granted the power play.
- A second clock will appear on the scoreboard showing the time period for the power play. 
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