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Early data from the 2021 season suggests clubs are becoming more judicious with their captains' challenges.

In the first season of the new initiative, there were 262 challenges in the reduced 169-game season, with just 109 successful for a 41.6 per cent success rate.

Teams at least were more judicious early in games, getting 47 per cent of first half challenges right, although that dropped to 39 per cent in the second halves.

After 32 matches in 2021, teams are hovering at a close to 50 per cent success rate with 20 of 41 challenges successful.

Sides have gotten even more careful about not wasting challenges in the first half, with nine of 13 first half challenges succeeding.

The Bulldogs, despite their other on-field woes, have been emblematic of the cautious approach this year with their six challenges the most by any side, with their 50 per cent success rate matching the league rate.

"I think early on in the game you've really got to be careful with it because you obviously don't want to waste an opportunity but you've just got to trust players too," Bulldogs skipper Josh Jackson told NRL.com.

"You [as a captain] don't see everything. You barely see anything, you don't really have time to look up at the screen and assess it. At the end of the day you've just got to trust your players."

Jackson said unless there was a high degree of confidence a call would be overturned early in a game it was better to save challenges.

"If you can save them for more crucial times during the game that's a bit better. For us, trust the players," he added.

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Jackson laughed that he'd worked out through the first year of the new rule that there are certain players you shouldn't listen to.

"Particularly if it's a 50-50 strip, something like that, you know not to challenge those ones," he said.

"There's a few [players you shouldn't trust], I won't name names but there's a couple that got me a couple of beauties last year."

As with many things this year, the Panthers are the team to beat; their three successful challenges is equal-most alongside Canterbury but with only one incorrect for a 75 per cent rate through four rounds, having got slightly less than half (seven of 16) correct last year.

Manly (two from two) Souths and Roosters (both one from one) are yet to get one wrong this year while Brisbane haven't tried a challenge at all yet.

The only teams to have regressed early on are the Eels, who were the best challengers of 2020 with eight from 13 but have just one from four this year including burning one very early against Melbourne in round two.

The Titans (none from three), Warriors (none from two) and Cowboys (none from one) are the other teams dragging the average down so far in 2021 with no correct challenges.

 

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