One rival club official told the Herald South Sydney loomed as one of the big winners with the six-again rule because Damien Cook was one of the fastest and craftiest dummy halves in the game, who could run riot against back-tracking defences.
Bennett, however, scoffed at the suggestions he had any influence over the latest changes, and said he only learnt of the proposals last Friday afternoon along with the rest of the Project Apollo team when NRL head of football Graham Annesley floated the idea.
The Souths supercoach, however, said he was a huge fan of the six-again call, and spoke of his love for the rule eight years ago in the lead-up to an All Stars game.
Bennett sat between Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Benji Marshall at a press conference and, in words that now seem prophetic, said: “It won’t happen this year but it will be a rule the game adopts in the future.
“Coaches, I can tell you now, if it becomes a rule of the future, they’ll make sure players cut out a lot of those infringements that do spoil the game because they won’t tolerate [their players] having to do six [tackles] in a row, and maybe six after that, because that’s going to kill your football team.”
Bennett told the Herald on Thursday: “I wasn’t there when the [latest] decision was made and I had no input into it whatsoever.
“If you go back to the All Stars game about eight years ago, yes I had a fair bit of say about in then, and we played under those rules. I liked it then.
“The one thing you know and I know and the referees know and fans know, it’s we can’t have games where there are 20 to 25 penalties on a regular basis because it stops the continuity of the game.”
Newcastle conceded the most penalties inside their own 20-metre zone last year with 41, while it was the premiers (40) and grand final rivals Canberra (38) who were the next worst offenders, according to Champion Data.
Souths only conceded 28 penalties in their own 20m, while Parramatta were the most disciplined with just the 22 penalties.
The latest Bennett-Roosters feud will add further spice to their next grudge match, which is likely to be held at the end of the month and potentially on May 28 as the official NRL relaunch game.
Angus Crichton made his debut with Souths before switching to the Roosters and said of the Bondi boys dealing with the six-again rule: “If you’re defending your line, we’ll be doing what we’ve been doing since 1908 and that’s trying to stop people from scoring tries and protecting your line.”
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.