You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
NSW hooker Damien Cook.

Origin stars from both sides of the border say players will adapt to the NRL's zero-tolerance stance on high tackles to ensure rugby league's showpiece event won't be marred by send-offs and sin bins.

Confirmation the "rules will be applied in Origin the same way they are at club level" from NRL head of football Graham Annesely comes after a Magic Round weekend dominated by players being marched for contact with the head or neck.

Such was the impact of the NRL's crackdown, ex-Blues coach Laurie Daley has raised the prospect of NSW and Queensland picking more mobile packs to cover potentially being reduced to 12 players in the June 9 series opener.

Rabbitohs big guns Damien Cook and Jai Arrow are selection certainties for NSW and Queensland respectively in three weeks' time at the MCG, with both holding out some hope that the unspoken leniency of Origin officiating continues.

Both conceded though that players will simply have to toe the line at all levels in the name of player welfare.

"I fully support what the game's trying to do. They're trying to look after player welfare," Cook said on Tuesday.

"I think everyone's just got to learn how best we can handle this.

Was this the crackdown the NRL had to have?

"We've got to give the refs time and the game time as to learn when it needs to be 10 in the bin, when it needs to be a send-off and when it is just a penalty.

"It's a different ballgame Origin. It's always been different hasn't it?... It's always entertaining to let a couple of little niggly things go.

"You just have to adapt to all the rules. The shoulder charge – everyone changed for that. It's going to happen every now and then but that's what the penalties are for.

"The game's very adaptable. People need to make sure they're making contact in the right area."

Speaking on Sky Sports Radio on Tuesday, Daley pondered whether NSW may opt for a "leaner pack [with] more mobility" to cover multiple positions, as well as the added fatigue, that could arise if a player is sat down by the referees.

"I know you've got guys like Junior Paulo and Daniel Saifiti, these type of blokes that are big and good but can you carry too many of those type of players in your team now?" Daley said.

"All of a sudden do you go for the more mobile front-rower [or middle forward]?

"Do you pick more Isaah Yeos and Jake Trbojevics, blokes with a bit more leg speed and [who] can be a bit more effective in that regard?

"Knowing that the game will be quicker and you could be losing more players to the sin bin."

Bennett backs rule changes, wants Bunker involvement tweaked

South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett made a point of reminding his players to avoid any contact with the head or neck before last week's win over Cronulla.

Arrow himself was involved in one of Origin's uglier incidents last year when he slammed a concussed James Tedesco into the turf, an act he has apologised publicly and privately for.

The Maroons lock said given the heavy price a sin-binning or even a penalty can carry at both Origin and NRL level, he expects players to be wary of any high contact, even if he'd like to see the whistle put away come Origin time.

"It's the pinnacle of rugby league in our game and the fans love it," Arrow said.

"I think the refs are a bit mindful of that and letting the game flow as much as they can.

Arrow cuts back through the middle from a Cook pass

"Whether they take it in or not, if there's blatant swinging arms to the head, then I'm all for the player welfare – blow a penalty or send them to the bin if it's that bad.

"I definitely think they'll be more lenient in an Origin game. I think everyone will be mindful of that this weekend.

"No player is out there to make intentional contact with the head because one, it's a penalty, and two, now you get either sent off or sin-binned. That's a factor.

"You don't want to be working in for Monday morning video and you've been sin-binned and your coach is into you. Especially Wayne, that would be pretty scary. I don't want to be doing that."

 

Secure your seat to witness the power of Origin’s rivalry at NRL Tickets