The NRL rule book won't be
re-written this season

NRL coaches agreed at a meeting with Referees Coordinator Mr Robert Finch, Chief Executive Mr David Gallop and Chief Operating Officer, Mr Graham Annesley that only a few slight interpretation modifications needed to be made by referees for the 2005 Telstra Premiership.

The first changes relate to the speed of the play the ball and include:

Defensive teams being given greater latitude where the attacking player surrenders without contesting the tackle.

Greater reward for text-book style low tackles. This will see the defender given a reasonable time to release the ball carrier, rather than releasing immediately as previously required.

A further change relates to the stripping rule, where defenders will now only be penalized where the referee is of the opinion that there is an obvious intent to steal the ball.

Coaches were unanimous in agreeing that the game should not stop for the video referee to rule on these decisions, they also acknowledged that it is inevitable there will be errors at times in these areas, but the revised interpretation will hopefully make it a little easier for referees to rule.

"I think we all emerged agreeing that the rules generally don't require too much tinkering and that we're heading in the right direction," Mr Annesley said.

"The Telstra Premiership is constantly evolving and the regular communication between Robert Finch and the club coaches means we're managing to stay abreast of any developments."

Mr Gallop also confirmed that former leading referee Mr Bill Harrigan will work under Mr Finch as a part-time referee coaching consultant.

"We're glad to welcome Bill back now that he is free of any club affiliation," Mr Gallop said.

"He's obviously the most successful referee our game has ever seen so we're looking forward to him passing on his expertise and developing an important part of our game."