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NRL referees are already anticipating coaches will push the envelope around marker and the 10-metre offside rule to combat the free-wheeling play of the new six-again call.

With a total of 53 new sets of six ruled for ruck infringements that otherwise may have drawn penalties across round three, feedback around the game's new ruling and return to one referee has been largely positive.

Almost three minutes of extra "ball in play" time per game was recorded between the opening two rounds and round three, while average play-the-balls were 0.21 seconds faster under the new rule.

NRL head of football Graham Annesley freely admits that just eight games with the new officiating model is a small sample size to work from.

But already the flow-in effects of faster ruck speeds and more open play have been widely lauded by players, fans, administrators, commentators and coaches alike.

Annesley predicts club coaches will already be plotting how to "work within or around the edges of the rules" to regain a defensive advantage, calling on referees to remain vigilant on attempts to slow play down again.

"I'm not being critical of coaches, their job is to win. The most obvious areas where they can try to have an impact on the six-again rule and the continuity of the game is by infringing in the 10 metres and by infringing in the marker area," Annesley said on Monday.

"We saw a number of full penalties over the weekend where markers weren't marking up squarely.

"The 10 metres will come under more and more pressure as teams try to shut down opposition attack so the referees are alert to that.

"If clubs want to roll the dice on that, they do it at their own peril.

"Referees have to be strong enough to identify when those sorts of tactics are being employed, and they have to react accordingly."

Manly's Danny Levi and North Queensland's Mitchell Dunn were both sin-binned over the weekend for professional fouls in which they attempted to slow down the ruck with potential tryscoring opportunities on offer.

The six-again call is designed to prevent teams from conceding back-to-back penalties when defending their line, creating fatigue where once a defensive team could reset with each infringement.

Having a player concede an obvious penalty by being offside in defence has been predicted as one possible workaround for teams stuck on their try line.

Annesely said the NRL's officials would be encouraged to use the sin bin in such a scenario, with the 10-minute marching "another weapon the referee has to discourage teams manipulating the rules".

Round three's five penalty goals were also marked decrease on the 33 shots at goal taken across the opening two rounds.

Full-blown penalties in general also dropped significantly, down from an average of 112 per round in weeks one and two to just 72 last weekend.

When the 53 six-again calls are added round three's total of infringements swells to 125, in effect cleaning up the ruck while opening up play, according to Annesley.

"It's significantly more than we would have seen if they had been awarded as penalties," he said of the six-again rulings.

Every try from round 3

"One of the benefits of this rule is that the referees don't feel under the same pressure to award penalties or to not award penalties.

"Particularly in very important parts of the field and in very important parts of the game.

"Yes we've seen more ruck infringements, but that's one of the objectives, to try and clean up the ruck area.

"The referees are not under the same pressure to not award penalties. They're encouraged to rule on those ruck infringements without actually stopping the game.

"They don't feel as restricted in allowing six-again as they would if they had to award penalties."

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