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The six again rule has the potential to create around two more minutes of "ball in play" time in each match which the NRL hopes will counter the potential slowing of general play under one referee.

The ARL Commission’s decision to revert to one referee for the rest of 2020 has divided opinion with many critics arguing it will reduce the speed of the game because there won’t be a second whistleblower monitoring the ruck.

Under the plan announced on Wednesday night, the sole on-field referee will be able to signal another set for the attacking team if an infringement occurs in the play-the-ball area.

Last year there was an average of 5.1 play-the-ball penalties in each Telstra Premiership match. On average, a penalty creates a 22 seconds stoppage in play.

So if there are a similar number of penalties in the play-the-ball area in 2020, each match is likely to have just under two more minutes of the ball being in play.

According to official NRL statistics, the ball was in play 54.8 minutes per game last year and was a fraction down in the first two rounds of the season at 54.7.

Critics of the switch away from two referees will contend the extra time created by the "six again" rule will be negated by defending teams slowing play down in the ruck area.

Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire maintained on Thursday that he would have preferred the two-referee system to have remained.

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"From the point of view that I really like the game the way it is. But they've made a change now and we've got to go with it. We're going to have to adjust and change with it," he said.

An attacking team cannot request a penalty instead of getting another set but referees will retain the right to issue a full penalty and place players in the sin bin for persistent ruck infringements and professional fouls. 

"We only heard about it last night that it was cleared so it's something we're going to have to adapt with and hopefully we work out how they're going to judge that from ruck to ruck," Maguire said.

"I've spoken to the boys this morning of where we're at, and it turned to a focus of how can we utilise our opportunities in getting a six again in that moment of time.

"The first few games are going to be interesting."

Roosters forward Angus Crichton claimed his team would not deliberately lie in the ruck to concede a "six again" set.

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"I think, to be honest, if you're on your line and you're tired, you're going to play regular footy," he said.

"A rule change like this, there's a lot of speculation and media talk and for players to think about but at the end of the day if you're defending your line we're going to be doing what we have been since 1908 – defending the line and stop people from scoring tries.

"That's what it's going to come down to for us.

"At the Roosters we never want to concede points, a big thing for us being a defensive team is we want to hold teams to zero. If we give away a penalty goal that's two points we don't want to concede.

"It doesn't change anything, we'll be doing what we've done for years."

Broncos coach Anthony Seibold believed the switch back to one referee would benefit his side.

"I think having one ref is suitable to us – we’re quite excited about it as a team we want to play fast footy," he said.

"So the more one-on-one tackles that we get, and the harder we fight to play the ball, we see that as potentially being a weapon on our game.

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"Having one referee, I assume the idea behind that is to try and give the attacking team some advantage and try to make the game even faster – I welcome the change, the decision has been made and for my group  it’s not an issue.

"I’m a glass half full kind of person, so let’s just crack on with it."

Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt said the players would be watching to see how the referees adapt to the new system.

"I don't know if it will speed it up, it will be kind of the same or a bit slower, it depends how they go about it. It depends who the ref is and how they go about it, we'll have to wait and see, I guess," he said.

Feldt felt the six again concept could be great for the fans wanting to see more play in broken field.

"That's going to come down to the referee, it's something that will be in their discretion if it is six again or a penalty," he said.

"As a defending player if you get it on the fourth or fifth tackle and they reset the tackle count it will be tough and it will bring in some exciting football as well, [for] your fullbacks and halves, zippy men around the ruck.

"For a fan it will be good but for a defending player it will be pretty tough to get used to."

They've made a change now and we've got to go with it.

Michael Maguire

Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen was also non-plussed by the change mid-season.

"I don't think it will impact us too much," he said on Thursday after the Storm returned to Melbourne following their brief stay training in Albury due to the Victorian government's pandemic restrictions.

"It's not too much to worry about."

Queensland coach Kevin Walters has backed the decision to bring back one referee, saying the system "worked beautifully for 100 years".

"Let's just go with it, let's just get our game on. It worked beautifully for 100 years with having just the one referee and we changed it," Walters told Fox League on Wednesday night.

"Did we get better decisions? We got some better decisions at different stages but it didn't dramatically change the way the game was played." 

Walters said he had noticed little to no difference between two referees in the NRL and one whistleblower in the international arena in recent years.

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Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.