“I reckon there will be games this year where players use it at the wrong time and think, ‘Shit, I shouldn’t have used it at that moment and I should have used it in this moment’.
“Other times you could hit the jackpot and it might be the match-winning play, especially late in games when there might be a dropped ball off the kick-off and you’re chasing four points to win the game. As a captain I think it’s great for the game.”
Only the Rabbitohs and Dragons have been able to trial the captain’s challenge under match conditions, in the Charity Shield, with the other 14 teams to deploy it for the first time this weekend.
Each team will have only one unsuccessful challenge per game, with captains only able to trigger it within a 10-second window before a structured re-start of play.
Queensland and Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans said he would closely watch the opening games of the new season before deciding whether to take advice from the coaching box to protest on-field decisions.
“I definitely think there’s going to be some teething issues, but that’s like anything when the game changes something,” he said.
I definitely think there’s going to be some teething issues, but that’s like anything when the game changes something
“Long term I think it’s a great idea, but as a captain it was just short notice. That will be the hardest thing to adapt to. Hopefully we can be one of the clubs that can really nail it and get it right straight away.
“The biggest is how it’s going to be used from the coaching box down to the players. I’m not sure how it’s going to work, but that’s eventually going to come into play. We’ll probably watch and copy.”
Most NRL coaches will use various methods to relay messages to players on field about challenging rulings.
St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor said his club were mulling whether to have red and green paddles to help notify players about using the captain’s challenge.
North Queensland captain Michael Morgan said he hoped the tactic wouldn’t need to be used on too many occasions this year.
“How’s it going to work? I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a funny one. We haven’t tried it before and I didn’t play in the 20s when they trialled it.
“For so long you were told not to argue with the ref – not that it’s arguing – but it’s going to take a little while to get used to. And for the refs as well. I’ve spoken to a couple through the trials and they didn’t seem too sure on exactly how it will work.”
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.