Peter Sterling: Why it's time for a rule change
Sir Isaac Newton’s third law tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite re-action.<br><br>It seems this logic applies to football as well as it does to physics.<br><br>Going into Round One, I wrote about the implications of referee’s cracking down on chasers heading downfield from an off-side position and what effect that would have on our attacking fullbacks and wingers.<br><br>It sure didn’t take long for some teams to devise their plan to accommodate the tweaking of this rule interpretation.<br><br>I reckon each club has this small circle of scheming tacticians, who plot in a hidden room as to how best handle changes and turn them to their advantage. I see them coming to work wearing sunglasses, overcoats and carrying briefcases marked ‘top secret’.<br><br>In this instance, their suggestion as to how to cope with danger men having more space was to adopt an already used ploy.<br><br>Instead of kicking the ball to Jarryd Hayne, Billy Slater and co. - simply kick the ball dead in goal.<br><br>We first saw this employed a couple of seasons ago by the Gold Coast in their game plan to take on Melbourne. With Billy Slater posing such a dangerous threat returning kicks, Titans coach John Cartwright decided that giving the Storm a re-start from the 20 metre line was a safer option.<br><br>As with any successful pursuit in rugby league, others followed suit.<br><br>Since then we have seen an intermittent use of this tactic but not enough to ruffle the feathers of the viewing public.<br><br>It did, however, become a talking point once again following week one of the new season. In their season opener against Parramatta, we saw St. George Illawarra look to negate the impact of the Eels' Jarryd Hayne by kicking the ball dead on a number of occasions.<br><br>It did appear that gifted kicker Jamie Soward deviated from his usually precise placement, and put an inordinate number of balls over the back line. Arguably a precise placement in a different sense.<br><br>When asked after the game Jamie said that it wasn’t deliberate, he just miss-hit them.<br><br>Now I’m the first to admit that it is impossible and fraught with danger to comment on someone else’s intent with any certainty. How can we ever know the exact thoughts of another individual?<br><br>I’m happy then to call these kicks 'coincidental', but coincidental enough to contemplate a minor rule change. Newton’s law strikes again!<br><br>In attempting to keep our game as entertaining as we can, it would seem preferable to keep the ball in play as much as possible.<br><br>The aim then is to make any negative hope of the ball being kicked dead less desirable. <br><br>At the moment, the trade-off is to give away possession and 20 metres in field position. Whilst both of these are the most vital considerations in winning a football game, it is deemed an acceptable result.<br><br>What I’d like to do is make it a touch harsher, without going over the top.<br><br>I think we should consider 'punishing' any kick that goes dead after being kicked from outside the defensive 30 metre line by re-starting play from the middle of that 30 metre line instead of the 20.<br><br>I pick 30 metres as the cut-off point because that is where teams are invariably looking for an attacking kick. To be not looking at scoring a try from that range would be incredibly counter-productive.<br><br>Whilst giving the defending team an extra 10 metres for their optional re-start may not seem significant, it is a healthy deterrent. Sides are very conscious of making it as difficult as possible for the opposition to work it out of their own end. Contributing to them being over half-way in a couple of plays and in great attacking position by the end of the set is not a welcome proposition.<br><br>I also think there are currently very few unintentional kicks that find their way dead from this distance. Today’s kickers are masters of their craft, and incredibly accurate. For those that are driven too hard the difference between risk and reward is not disproportionate.<br><br>The beauty of this change is that it’s introduction would be seamless. The video ref would be able to look at where boot was put to ball - as he now does with 40/20 attempts - and coming out to the 30 metre line for any re-start is obviously easily done. <br><br>It’s been very interesting watching other tactics that teams have altered to accommodate their chasing teams.<br><br>As predicted, there has been much more kicking out of dummy-half - but there’s also no doubt that the spiralling mid-field bomb is well and truly back in vogue.<br><br>Last weekend most teams hoisted the torpedo kick high in the air allowing chasers to legally put pressure on and present a different nightmare for the game’s custodians.<br><br>John “the Bomber” Peard must be licking his lips in delight.