Ben Hunt criticises timing of rule changes


The Dragons halfback also expressed frustration over the format for State of Origin, saying he was concerned that failure to reach the finals would put a player’s spot in jeopardy.

“For the guys that don’t make the finals, you will have five to six weeks off leading into an Origin,” he said. “I think it could harm a lot of people’s chances – and myself.

Tariq Sims is yet to play a club grade game with a one-ref system. Credit:AAP

“I think if coaches are smart, you will be taking into account that some blokes are a bit underdone if they’re not making finals.

“Take myself, for example, playing No.9 if you’ve got someone playing good, like Jake Friend, you’re probably going to be taking him if he goes deep into the finals.”

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State of Origin is set to be played on November 4, 11 and 18, with Hunt still looking to be Queensland’s hooker of choice.

With the May 28 restart date just around the corner, Hunt also threw his support behind Peter V’landys, who said he was prepared to march on without the top referees in the event of strike action. The battle between the NRL and referees is now set to head to arbitration after mediation talks between the parties broke down on Tuesday.

“[A strike] would definitely hurt the game, I think it would hurt us and themselves,” Hunt said. “The NRL, and Peter V’landys mostly, has done a hell of a lot to get this game back going and I don’t think a few refs striking is going to stop him.”

On Monday, former top referee Bill Harrigan has warned the NRL’s whistle-blowers against taking strike action, warning that fans will likely turn against them if they threaten the May 28 restart date.

Teammate Tariq Sims said the eleventh-hour rules changes and need to adapt could actually be a benefit to his side.

“One thing I’ve noticed and figured out throughout my years playing NRL is whoever adapts to the rule change the quickest is usually the ones who come out on top the best,” he said. “We are a very clean side when it comes to ruck control…we are quite lucky, we do have a really mobile forward pack.”

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